By Jessica Winch 12:45PM GMT 26 Feb 2013
Figures from Financial Fraud Action UK, which tackles fraud on behalf of banks, show that around 15pc of British adults receive scam job offers which effectively turn participants into ‘money mules’.
The study said that low-income groups such as students and jobseekers were specifically targeted.
DCI Dave Carter from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU), a fraud unit sponsored by the banking industry, said: “What might initially seem an attractive method of boosting your income during tough times is in reality the work of determined international criminals, aiming to turn the public into an unwitting army of accomplices to fraud.”
The fraudsters offer jobs with titles such as ‘money transfer agent’ or ‘payment processing agent’.
The participant receives money into their bank account and transfers it to another account, keeping a cut for themselves
According to Financial Fraud Action, the money – often the result of fraud on other accounts – is then laundered to overseas bank accounts.
People who become involved could have their bank accounts frozen and if prosecuted face a prison sentence of up to ten years.
Financial Fraud Action commissioned ICM to survey 2,000 adults in November last year along with separate work with groups of unemployed adults, students and people who have lived in the UK for less than five years.
Of the 15pc who had received these job offers, a fifth considered accepting and 6pc went on to volunteer.
Extrapolating nationally from the survey, Financial Fraud Action estimated that 380,000 people were at risk of becoming unwitting money launderers.
The figures were larger among students and new entrants to the UK, with 19pc and 20pc respectively accepting the work.
Crimestoppers has recently launched a campaign in universities across the UK to warn students not to get involved in money laundering.
Sadie Miller, development manager for Crimestoppers, said: "Money laundering is a serious offence and Crimestoppers has launched this money mules campaign in universities across the UK to make students and members of the public aware of these prowling fraudsters
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