Easy money with no strings attached?

This blog is provided by the Police Scotland Cybercrime Harm Prevention Team in support of Cyber Scotland Week – Keeping everyone cyber aware and resilient.

How often have you seen an offer to ‘make money from your own home?’

Social media is full of adverts offering stress-free, get rich quick schemes. These offers can look very tempting, especially to busy students on a budget, but the unfortunate reality is that these are often lures to become a money mule.

Money mules are a way for criminals to hide their profits through money laundering. You won’t know where the money came from or where it goes, but it could be used to fund drugs, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, or terrorism.

Money mule schemes involve people agreeing to share their bank details so that sums of money can be deposited into their accounts. These are then withdrawn and transferred onwards – with the account holder retaining a percentage for their compliance.

Students are a target because younger people are less likely to have a criminal history and their clean accounts are less suspicious to banks. Under-25s are six times more likely than over-50s to fall victim to scams like this through social media, with the practice becoming so normalised in some circles that it can be easy to forget that it’s illegal.

You might see online ads that appear genuine – but don’t be fooled – take a moment to consider what’s actually being offered. ‘Earn from the comfort of your own home’, ‘must be willing to provide bank details’, ‘make £250 a week – no experience necessary’. These are all red flags that could indicate you’re being targeted as a money mule.

If you’re offered a job that seems too good to be true:

• research the company thoroughly and never by clicking attached links.
• be wary of overseas job offers which may make it harder for you to find out if they’re legitimate.
• look out for adverts that are written in poor English or with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
• never accept a position where a company wants to transfer their money through your bank account.

Unusual activity on your bank account is flagged by fraud detection systems and your account could be frozen leaving you without access to your money. How would you explain where the money came from? Could you explain to the bank, to the police, to a court?

If you knowingly allow your bank details to be used for fraudulent purposes, you could face years in prison. Your accounts may be closed and you could struggle to open new ones. Your credit will be affected making it harder to access a phone contract, loans, credit cards, car finance or a mortgage.

By sharing your banking details, there’s more to lose than your own money.

If you have been a victim of crime, contact Police Scotland on 101 or visit www.scotland.police.uk

Police Scotland are proudly supporting Cyber Scotland Week  from 28 February to 6 March 2022. For more information about keeping safe online and cyber security please visit www.cyberscotlandweek.com

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