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Other scams

Devious techniques to part us from our cash

Scammers aim to con us all in a huge variety of ways - and can initially appear very sensible and realistic.

Deceptive premium rate competition scams, bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, get-rich-quick schemes and fake health cures are just some of the favoured means of conning people. These can spring up unexpectedly from anywhere across the globe.

Money mule (or money transfer agent)

Some people have been approached by criminals, usually by email, offering a one-off or series of payments in exchange for providing their account details.

Criminals need a 'money mule' (or money transfer agent) to launder the funds obtained as a result of fraudulent activity.

After being recruited by the fraudsters, money mules receive funds into their accounts which they will then withdraw and send overseas using a wire transfer service, minus a certain commission payment.

Money mules are recruited by a variety of methods, including spam emails, adverts on genuine recruitment web sites, approaches to people with their CVs available online, instant messaging and adverts in newspapers.

This type of scam targets the unwary - and could help third parties to conceal the fact that these funds are the proceeds of crime.

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Avoid becoming a money mule

  • Never respond to or become involved in any such request, no matter how attractive the payment terms
  • Remember - assisting a criminal transfer of monies to another account could make you subject to criminal investigation, which may lead to your prosecution

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Advance fee scams (419 fraud)

Have you ever received an email or letter which offers a large reward if you help to transfer a large amount of money?

The email or letter will often say that the money has come from bribes, government accounts or the unclaimed money from someone who has recently died.

The fraud works by asking you to hand over your bank details - and pay an 'advance fee' in order to complete the deal. The fraud may call the advance fee a tax, or even a bribe.

However, if you pay the advance fee, you will receive nothing in return - and there is no hope of having your money returned.

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How to spot new scams

Before you pick up the phone or respond to an email, fax or letter, look out for these telltale signs - and think carefully about what you are being invited to do:

  • A scam will usually offer you something for nothing, when you have had no previous correspondence or involvement
  • You get an 'opportunity' to earn easy money in exchange for an up-front cash fee and perhaps your account details
  • You may be asked to call a premium rate phone number to collect a prize
  • You may notice poor spelling and grammar
  • There will often be a PO box number in the contact address
  • The scam may involve payment being made to an unconnected party in a different country

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Scams - our advice

Remember, if an offer appears to be too good to be true, it usually is. Stop, think and keep hold of your cash, and always report details of any suspected scam to your bank, credit card provider or the Office of Fair Trading.

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