The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is warning the public about a new ‘money mule’ bank scam that has emerged in South Africa. Criminals are specifically targeting vulnerable individuals who are facing financial difficulties in these challenging economic times, according to the FSCA.
Under this scam, criminals approach South Africans and request the use of their bank accounts to deposit or transfer money, often luring them with promises of rewards or payments as reported by Business Tech. The FSCA emphasises the need for extreme vigilance and caution when dealing with unknown individuals or organisations making such requests.
The ‘money mule’ scam involves fraudsters deceiving bank customers into using their accounts for illegal activities, including drug and human trafficking, theft, fraud, and corruption. In some cases, criminals may even approach unsuspecting victims to open bank accounts using their valid identification documents, which are then used to receive and distribute proceeds from criminal activities, states the FSCA.
It is important to note that the use of bank accounts for criminal purposes is illegal, and individuals whose accounts become involved in such scams or facilitate criminal activity may face charges and convictions, even if they were unaware of their participation. Penalties for these offences include imprisonment and possible future restrictions on accessing bank accounts.
To protect themselves from money mules and other financial scams, the FSCA provides the following safety guidelines:
- Never allow others to deposit or transfer money using your bank account.
- Never open a bank account in your name on behalf of someone else, even if you know them or are offered payment.
- Never share personal or financial information with unfamiliar individuals.
- Never respond to unsolicited emails or messages asking for access to your bank account or promising money in exchange for assistance.
- Always verify any unusual or unexpected deposits or transfers with your bank.
Additionally, the public is reminded to report lost or stolen identity documents to the South African Police Services (SAPS) and Southern African Fraud
Prevention Service (SAFPS) to prevent criminals from misusing them to open bank accounts or access credit facilities under false pretences.
Stay informed and stay vigilant to protect yourself from financial scams.
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