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Students - don't get scammed

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What is a Money Mule?

Money mules are recruited, sometimes unwittingly, by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money between different bank accounts. Money mules receive the funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw or transfer the money to a different account.

Even if you’re unaware that the money you’re transferring was illegally obtained, you have played an important role in money laundering, and can still be prosecuted. Criminals will often use fake job adverts, social media posts, or sometimes approach you in person, about opportunities to make money quickly, in order to lure potential money mule recruits.

Nearly all crime has some kind of financial element, and those funds have to go somewhere. The money could have come from fraud, drug dealing, even terrorism. Fraudsters will never give a victim their own bank account details, as they know the police will be able to trace it easily. Instead, Money Mules are used to ‘clean’ the criminal funds. You and you alone are responsible for what goes in and out of your bank account, don’t be fooled.

When you’re caught:

  • Your bank account will be closed
  • You will find it hard to access further student loans
  • It will be difficult to get credit agreements, such as a phone contract, loan or mortgage
  • You could go to prison for up to 14 years

For more information about Money Mules, visit https://moneymules.co.uk/

Common scams to be aware of:

Telephone:

HMRC – Victims are called and told they owe money to HMRC. Victims are often told there is a warrant out for their arrest if they don’t pay. HMRC will never call you in this way, hang up.

Covid 19 - Victims are told they’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid 19 and their card details are needed to pay for a test. Scammers may pretend to be your GP, the NHS, the Government or even the World Health Organisation. They might offer a test for the virus, a treatment or cure, or might offer to discuss your medical needs. Scammers are also calling and pretending to offer the Covid 19 vaccination and asking for your personal and financial information. Never share your card details with anyone over the phone. Hang up.

Phishing:

Royal Mail / Other Couriers – Emails / texts stating you have missed a delivery and there is a small charge to rearrange. Do not click the link or give any information. Scammers are sending these messages to get information about victims. Victims who respond to these messages then receive a scam call from someone pretending to be their bank.

Investment:

Spot the warning signs: 

  • Unexpected contact ​​​​– traditionally scammers cold-call but contact can also come from online sources e.g. email or social media, post, word of mouth or even in person at a seminar or exhibition.
  • Time pressure – they might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date or say the opportunity is only available for a short period.
  • Social proof – they may share fake reviews and claim other clients have invested or want in on the deal.
  • Unrealistic returns – fraudsters often promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true, such as much better interest rates than elsewhere. However, scammers may also offer realistic returns in order to seem more legitimate.
  • False authority - using convincing literature and websites, claiming to be regulated, speaking with authority on investment products. 
  • Flattery – building a friendship with you to lull you into a false sense of security.

Advice:

Always verify any unexpected contacts via a genuine source. If you get a call from someone saying they’re your bank, hang up and call the number on the back of your bank card. If someone calls saying they’re a police officer, ask for their collar number, hang up and call 101 and ask for that collar number to verify.

Never trust the number that shows on your Caller ID. Scammers use a technique called spoofing which means they can choose whichever number they like to appear on your Caller ID, they often use Police Station or banks telephone numbers.

Make sure your phone number is private on social media, to prevent it getting into the wrong hands. Remove your details from 192.com to stop scammers finding your information.

What to do if you’re a victim:

  • Contact your bank and make them aware you’ve been a victim of fraud. Report which transactions on your account were due to the scam. They may issue you a new bank card.
  • Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service if you’re unhappy with the outcome from your bank. https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/ 0800 023 4567. 
  • If your personal information or documents have been compromised, get a copy of your credit file from a credit reference agency. Check your credit file is okay and there are no fraudulent entries. Apply for CIFAS protective registration https://www.cifas.org.uk/pr  0330 460 9601 
  • Block the scammers telephone numbers, email addresses and social media profiles. 
  • Report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/