Officials are warning that serious organised crime fraudsters are targeting people looking for work to launder money. Using social media, criminals are targeting younger people in social media scams and new figures show there were more than 17,000 suspected money mule cases in 2020.

UK Finance is warning that young people who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic are being targeted and used as money mules. They say that criminals are advertising fake jobs and offer quick cash to victims, in return for using their bank accounts to launder money. They use social media, jobs websites and emails to recruit young people, offering cash to people who provide their bank details, the money is then transferred through the victim’s bank account to the criminal’s account. Most of the time victims are not aware their accounts are being used in this way and are lured in by the promise of easy money. The problem is, for victims of this scam, it makes them an accessory to money laundering and could lead to a criminal conviction.

Criminals often post on legitimate sites or create social media profiles and are highly sophisticated and use encrypted messaging which is hard to detect. UK finance is calling on government to make social media and online sites more accountable by including fraud and economic crime in the upcoming Online Safety Bill, which makes the online platform responsible for taking down fraudulent adverts, profiles, and posts.

How does a money mule scam work?
Someone may approach you online and offer you a job or say you have won something. Whatever it is, they soon offer to send you money and then ask you to send it to someone else by transfer or sometimes a gift card. The problem is that money was stolen from somewhere and is often used to fund serious organised crime. If you help or facilitate this transaction you make yourself liable to legal action and possible criminal conviction.

Here is how to stay safe online:
• Do not respond to an advert offering money which seems too good to be true, it probably is and more likely to be a scam.
• Check the language. Often these scams contain poor use of language or grammatical errors.
• Research anyone that is offering you anything online, and research any potential job offers or employer.
• Finally, never hand over your bank details to anyone. If you do contact your bank immediately and report it.

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