(see also pyramid schemes and chain letters)
Scammers are using the Internet, newspaper advertisements, seminars, mail and direct approach to lure people into self-employment schemes which end up costing them money - instead of making them money.
Key phrases to look out for:
make large amounts of money quickly and with little effort
work from home (often using your computer)
requires payment for 'registration' or for more information material
Some schemes sell information of no value, some pretend to provide skills which turn out to be unmarketable, and others pyramid schemes which rely on recruiting or luring others into joining.
Computer gambling or share market software programs, which guarantee winners, are a common scam.
Money transfer or “money mule” schemes are a more sinister scam. They want you to be involved in illegal money laundering.
The schemes are often promoted by email and on the Internet as “work from home” opportunities. The operators offer you commission (between 7% to 15%) for receiving money into your bank account and then transferring it out again. They often claim it is to get around tough tax laws in their home country.
Anti-fraud experts say the money being transferred is often stolen from other people’s bank accounts via the Internet. Scammers use Trojan and key logging viruses to capture customer online banking details. They need Australian bank accounts to launder the money through. Once you receive the money, you take your cut and pass the rest to a pre-arranged overseas destination.
There are laws against money laundering. There is a real possibility that you will be prosecuted. It is not worth the risk of prosecution and a criminal record.
The United Kingdom’s banking industry website www.banksafeonline.org.uk/spotting_scams.html has an up-to-date list of money mule scams.
Be wary of job opportunities that sound too good to be true
There is no “easy way” to make money from home.
Check with Consumer Protection, ASIC (www.asic.gov.au) and ACCC (www.accc.gov.au) whether the offer is legitimate.Ask for all the details in writing before you sign anything. Don’t be pressured into signing something on the spot.
Be suspicious if you are asked to pay money. Find out more before you hand over your cash.
Find out if there is a market for the work you plan to do.
Check whether there are special legal requirements such as licences or other constraints on working from home.
Alert WA ScamNet.
Money Mule email scams
The schemes are often promoted by email and on the Internet as “work from home” opportunities. The operators offer you commission (between 7% to 15%) for receiving money into your bank account and then transferring it out again. However the money is often stolen from other people's bank accounts. Money laundering is illegal.
Always treat unsolicited job offers from strangers with caution, even if it appears to come from a legitimate company or job recruitment service. Why would they write to you when they have no business relationship with you?
Scammers often use fake email addresses mimicking real companies or set up sophisticated websites to give the appearance of legitimacy.
Forward suspicious job offers to WA ScamNet and delete the email.
What to do if you suspect you have fallen for a money mule scam
If you have received money into your account, transferred or attempted to transfer money elsewhere, immediately contact your bank or financial institution.
Your financial institution will start a fraud investigation and alert police if necessary.
The financial institution will take steps to ensure that criminals cannot transfer money out of your account. This may mean freezing or closing down your account to ensure the criminals cannot access the money.
If you have provided the criminals with your account details and Internet banking password, then unfortunately the criminal may be able to access your account. You should never give your Internet banking password to anyone - it must remain confidential!
Always make sure that you have personal firewalls, the latest anti-virus software updates and other security patches on your home personal computers, and change your banking password on a regular basis.
West Australians tricked into becoming Money Mules
Consumer Protection and WA Police have warned West Australians not to be tricked into becoming money mules for overseas criminals, warning about enticements such as job advertisements offering an attractive salary for working from home or other fake business propositions.
Alleged fraud on wannabe fruit pickers
Consumer Protection is warning jobseekers to be wary of responding to adverts on classifieds websites, where the recruiter requires payment. It comes after a group of at least forty backpackers reported losing $120-$150 each and handing over secure personal details after responding to an online advert for fruit picking positions in WA’s South West.
Athens Financial Group Ltd
The same pitch, the same website and the same scam. The only difference between Athens Financial Group Ltd and Israeli Brokerage Services Ltd is the name. The email is a reworked version of the Israeli Brokerage, Norway Consulting, Global Austrian Syndicate and UK Modulus Invest money laundering scams.
The bland email from Barcelo Travel seems innocuous enough, containing only a few short sentences offering a job with a big salary. But this email is anything but innocent and is flooding inboxes around the world. You will probably receive a different version of this email depending on where you live.
Columbus-Partners Inc claims to be an online-to-offline money transfer service with headquarters in New York City. It claims there are five openings to assist in creating a virtual local presence. This is an illegal money mule or money transfer scheme which has a very nasty sting in its tail.
GlobalIndustry Finance Group
GlobalIndusty Finance Group claims to be a finance company looking for part-time financial contractors. It claims you can earn between $1000 and $2000 a week. All you need to do is provide your bank account details.This is just another money transfer scheme. GlobalIndustry is actually recruiting "money mules" to accept fraudulent transactions in their accounts.
“No cold calling, no selling to family and friends, no door to door sales! Just sales support for our growing company.” That’s the pitch used in an email purportedly from Mercury Industries.The pitch should actually read: “No cold calling, no selling to family and friends, no door to door sales! Just an illegal money transfer scheme which could land you in hot water”.
Money Transfer Schemes - Girtex Inc
Money transfer schemes are the latest so-called “working from home” scams to hit our email inboxes. The schemes claim to offer you a commission simply for receiving money into your bank account and then transferring it out again. There are laws against money laundering. Is the money worth the risk of prosecution and a criminal record?
Project 21 - work from home processing emails
The "Self Employment Opportunity" ad said "Work from home processing emails. Earn up to $5,000 pm p/t." Sound too good to be true?"Project 21" is an email version of an old-fashioned envelope stuffing scam, promising high returns for little or no effort.
SEEK job resume
An email job offer arrives from a company claiming to have got your resume from SEEK Australia job site.Apparently your resume suits the requirements for a position processing payments. Little computer knowledge is needed and you will be paid DAILY. Your minimal income is $4000 on average a month. Hang-on, this sounds suspiciously like a money mule money laundering scam.
Ukrainian Folk Instruments Sales
Ukrainian Folk Instruments Sales (UFIS) is advertising a position for a financial operations manager with a salary of $600 to $5000 per week. UFIS is good at blowing its own horn but its all hot air. UFIS is a typical money transfer scheme.Often the money being transferred into your account is stolen from other people’s bank accounts via the Internet.