Rip Off Britain: Victim emotional over online scam
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Lloyds Bank’s fraud team has pledged it is working hard to crack down on instances of scams, but the issue is sadly widespread. While phishing scams are now often recognised by Britons, con-artists are using other techniques to select their prey. One such example is a phenomenon known as “money muling”, a type of crime where individuals can be recruited for money laundering purposes, without even being aware of it themselves.
The fraud is undertaken and advertised in a seemingly innocuous way, usually via social media, but could have major consequences for those who become involved.
Adverts claim the organisation in question can recover funds paid out via direct debits or debit card subscriptions.
The agreement, however, is that once the refund has been issued, the funds are split 50/50.
The customer provides their online banking details to the recruiter who will then make outbound payments on their behalf.
Lloyds Bank warning as ‘lured in’ Briton loses over £2,000 to scam – ‘too good to be true’ (Image: Getty)
Lloyds Bank issued the warning as one woman was unfortunately targeted and left in the lurch financially.
The woman, who was on benefits and living in financial difficulty, had responded to a social media advert with the promise of making quick money in this way.
The recruiter raised the claim on the woman’s behalf after she provided them with access to her online banking.
While she received a refund of £2,181.11, split with the recruiter, her share was sent to other external parties she had borrowed money from previously.
But what is not explained to the customer is that the recovery is taking place under the direct debit indemnity scheme.
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The bank issues funds in the first instances, but then contacts the companies involved asking for the funds to be refunded to them.
Companies then have the chance to challenge, proving the services were supplied and the payment made by direct debit originally was correct.
If the company successfully challenges, then the refund issued by the bank is then re-debited from the account, an instance which the woman in question faced.
Rather than the promise of making fast money, the customer now owes the £2,181.11 sum, as all of the refund was spent by the fraudster.
She also compromised the security of her account by sharing her personal banking information with someone she did not know.
Lloyds Bank: Money muling is unfortunately becoming more common (Image: Getty)
Understandably, this could be devastating financially for someone who was unsuspectingly drawn in to this kind of scam.
Philip Robinson, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, told Express.co.uk: “The pandemic has opened a whole new door for fraudsters who are trying every trick in the book to get their hands on victims’ cash and using coronavirus to disguise their tactics.
“The most common way they are targeting victims to become money mules is using social media to offer ways of making fast cash using fake photos and profiles to lure people in and convince them to move money.
“Tempting offers that sound too good to be true probably are, so it’s important to think about the consequences like being left with no bank account, a damaged credit score, and even prison.”
Mr Robinson went on to explain that helping to “keep money safe” is the main priority of the bank, and that it is working behind the scenes to stop the majority of attempted fraud.
He added: “We created our innovative mule-hunting team in 2018 to develop a number of new techniques to rapidly analyse data, spotting tell-tale signs, patterns and behaviour to halt fraudsters in their tracks.
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“We have since incorporated the intel from this industry-leading pilot into our state-of- the-art fraud systems to stop the movement of money from scams, shutting down fraudsters’ attempts to shift money using cutting-edge defences.”
In 2020, the bank froze approximately 40,000 accounts in this regard, and trapped £32million in the proceeds of crime.
It found half of suspected mule accounts belong to individuals over the age of 25.
Unsuspecting mules could also face up to 14 years imprisonment, and so it is particularly important to remain on one’s guard.
Thankfully, though, there are some actions Britons can take in order to protect themselves from being targeted in this manner.
When looking out for a money mule scam, it is firstly important to remember that no legitimate company will ever ask a person to use their own bank account to transfer their money – this should be avoided at all costs.
If these types of offers derive from people or companies overseas, it can also be a red flag, as it could make it harder for Britons to find out if they are legitimate or not.
Finally, individuals should never give out any financial details to a person they don’t know, whether this is via social media or otherwise.