Money mules to debit refunds – we expose most common scams on social media

Money mules to debit refunds – we expose most common scams on social media

DO you know who your teenager is in touch with on social media?

Crooks are using Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok to part teens from their money, either by obtaining their bank details or through scams inviting them to act as “money mules”.

Philip Robinson, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Fraudsters are popping up on social media with offers of making fast cash by moving money from their account. They use fake photos and profiles to lure people.”

The Sun has seen dozens of accounts which promise easy ways to make quick cash.

But these are scams that could see young people lose their money or even end up with a criminal record.

TSB’s head of fraud Ashley Hart said: “The overwhelming majority of scams now involve social media, either directly or by using personal information from the platforms, and recruitment of ‘money mules’ is rampant.”

Here we expose some of the most common tricks used on social networks.

Spot cons on social

THE lender TSB has the following advice:

  • WATCH OUT FOR CELEB ENDORSEMENTS. Fraudsters often use fake images or celebs or quotes to con you on social media. As The Sun reported on Friday, an NHS nurse lost a month’s salary to a fake currency trader who had been endorsed on Katie Price’s Instagram page. Don’t trust something because it has a familiar face on it.
  • GO DIRECT. If you see an advert for a product you like, go directly to the company’s official site. Don’t buy via messaging or social media.
  • PAY SAFELY. Avoid bank transfers and insist on paying by card or PayPal (pay using the “goods and services”, not “friends and family” option). That way, you can get a refund.
  • NEVER SHARE YOUR DETAILS. Offers of payment to “borrow” your bank account for money transfers or using your card details are all cons. You will be acting as a money mule and could go to jail. You will also find it virtually impossible to get credit for years to come.

Money mule

CROOKS post images of wads of cash with their claims that social media users can make a fast buck by “cash flipping”.

They might send you £1,000, say, on the proviso you send on most of it . . . but can keep £200 for your efforts.

It sounds easy – tempting, even. But it is money laundering and a criminal offence.

Laundering cash lets crooks use money they have gained illegally – through fraud, perhaps, drugs or other crime – without it being traced.

Even if you don’t realise you are being used as a money mule, you might wind up with a criminal record.

You could be banned from having a bank account or opening any credit accounts in future, such as buying a mobile phone or getting car insurance.

Nearly 6,000 14 to 18-year-olds were conned into becoming money mules in 2019.

That marks a 73 per cent rise in two years, according to fraud prevention body Cifas.

Good deal goes wrong

WHEN Sam*, 15, saw a seller on Instagram advertising Nike Air Jordan trainers for £200, he thought that he had found a brilliant deal.

He messaged the seller and agreed to pay the asking price by bank transfer.

But it was all a scam and Sam never received the goods he paid good money for.

Luckily, his bank – Lloyds – refunded the sum after he told it what had happened.

Sam admitted: “Now I feel stupid for falling for what seemed like a bargain.”

  • *Names have been changed to protect identities

Debit refund scam

KELLY* was struggling to pay her bills when she saw an Instagram post promising she could get them refunded.

But it was a scam and she ended up £2,181 out of pocket.

Fraudsters are using social media to lure victims like Kelly by claiming they can recover direct debit and debit card payments made for services such as Netflix and Uber Eats, as well as for car insurance and phone contracts.

Once you give out your online banking details, they request refunds on your behalf under the direct debit indemnity scheme – a system designed to let genuine customers challenge payments they think have been incorrectly taken.

The refund will appear in your account and you pay the scammer 50 per cent as their fee.

But the companies giving the refunds will challenge them and when they prove the payments were taken correctly after all, your bank will repay them, leaving you short of the scammer’s “fee”.

Why energy bills are rising £150

ENERGY firms are today urged not to hike bills all the way up to the new, higher price cap.

On Friday, Ofgem will lift the cap by £150 to £1,288 for typical users.

Big energy firms have typically priced tariffs at the cap or within £1 of it.

But the cap should be an absolute limit, not a target price.

The move affects 11milllion families on “standard” tariffs – those who did not switch supplier in the past year.

Their annual bill will go up from £1,138 to around £1,288 – a high since the cap was introduced in January 2019.

Ofgem sets the cap, with the wholesale cost of gas and leccy to suppliers a factor.

The regulator’s boss Jonathan Brearley explains the rise and what you can do.

NEWS that energy bills are rising will be particularly difficult for many families struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

As countries emerge from lockdown, global gas prices have hit record highs.

Unfortunately, this is pushing up prices for families, including for electricity and gas.

For customers who have not switched, there is an energy price cap.

It acts as a safety net by placing a an upper limit on how much energy companies can charge for each unit of electricity and gas they supply to their customers.

The cap allows them to pass on legitimate costs only, preventing suppliers from making unreasonable profits.

They cannot charge customers more than the level of the cap, although they can charge less.

As energy regulator, Ofgem updates the cap twice a year.

RECORD PRICES

Record gas prices will be reflected in the new cap level and could add around £150 to bills from October 1.

This will affect around 11million customers on variable or default rates and four million with prepayment meters.

Record gas prices have already been pushing up the price of fixed-contract deals coming on to the market.

My message to any Sun reader worried about paying their energy bill is to contact your supplier to access the support available.

Shop around for a better deal.

We have strict rules in place to make sure they help their customers, especially the vulnerable.

Where help is not forthcoming, we will not hesitate to act.

How to switch

  • MAKE use of price comparison websites, or phone different energy companies to find out what you can save by switching your supplier.
  • BE aware that price comparison websites will not factor in the higher price cap until October 1. If you compare deals before then, you should be able to save even more than advertised.
  • FOR those who do not want to change their supplier or who are unable to switch, contact your energy company. It should be able to put you on a better deal.
  • IT can take up to 21 days to complete a switch. Typically, it takes around 17 days.

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