Police Warn Expats About Money Laundering Scam

by Jim Atkins, IExpats.com

Police are warning expats about a money transfer scam which could end in serious criminal charges because they are laundering money for organised crime gangs.

The warning comes from Action Fraud, Britain’s official scam busters run by the National Fraud Authority and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

They say many expats are being contacted by phone, email or letter in what appears to be a simple money making scheme.

Some expats are even getting involved after seeing a newspaper advert.

The idea behind the scam is simple and involves the expat receiving a payment into their bank account which they then withdraw in cash and send on to the crime gang.
Criminal offences

For their trouble, the expat could earn as much as 20% in commission.

However, it is more likely that they are helping criminals launder money which is a serious criminal offence.

A spokesman for Action Fraud said: “Money laundering is a method to disguise the proceeds of crime to appear as if the money comes from a legal source and one way of doing this is to put that money through a series of bank accounts.

“If anyone is approached to get involved in something like this, they should remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The opportunity of earning 20% in commission on a substantial sum of money for what appears little risk is often tempting for expats, many of whom have been targeted because they are struggling financially.
Expats targeted

The criminals are also targeting people who are advertising for work online, who are sometimes offered a work from home opportunity with the job described as a ‘transfer manager’ or ‘account manager’.

Some expats have been told that the money they are transferring is for trading shares overseas or that they are helping distribute charity funds.

Anyone getting involved in the scam should be aware that once money is taken out of their bank account, tracing the cash is almost impossible.

The penalties for money laundering convictions vary from country to country but in the UK, a conviction could lead to 14 years in jail and an unlimited fine.

Police also point out that once the criminals have someone’s bank details, they often try to steal money from the account. Some expats are ordered to transfer money they have not received to meet a deadline and send their own cash because they fear crossing the criminals.