Criminals using 'money mules' for fraud
Durban - As technology evolves with greater security measures being in place to protect people, criminals have upped their game and found new loopholes in biometric technology to carry out their illegal activities.
Manie van Schalkwyk, executive director of the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service, said people were being recruited on the streets with promises of quick payment for the use of their bank accounts. According to SAFPS the people who are used for these activities are known as money mules.
The SAFPS in a statement said money mules are people who knowingly, or unknowingly, are used by another person to make money transactions which the criminal would normally want to be invisible.
Such is the extent of the activities that the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service had to open a new category of fraud the statement said.
Van Schalkwyk said although this looked like easy money, it was not, and people should not fall for this scam.
He said: “The danger for the consumer is that they are complicit in a criminal act and will be getting themselves involved with a fraudster. It might look like easy money, but the victim has no idea what the money is being used for and it is often for illegal gains and even human trafficking.”
Recruitment happened at street level in South Africa, internationally this was being done in cyberspace.
The SAFPS said the Australian Banking Association had identified two main methods used by criminals used to recruit their victims. The first was of romance scams where vulnerable single people are targeted online in places like chatrooms and social network sites by the scammers.
They often ask them (victims), to use their bank accounts to send money to third parties the association said.
The other was to recruit people by sending messages to random people by promising them quick returns if they transfer money on behalf of the fraudster it said.
Van Schalkwyk said: “When you allow the use of your banking account as the middleman for third-party banking you are in breach of your contract of account with the bank, and will be on record as a money mule. You could be looking at a criminal record for life, and worse be party to the devastating crime of human trafficking.”
She said there was news as SAFPS was working closely with banks to ensure maximum security and awareness to control this growing epidemic.