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21 Dec 2018
Ending up as money mule through social media


Are you active on social media and short of case? If so, you may be tempted to join a new pyramid scheme specially targeting young people. The Netherlands Gaming Authority published a warning about this scheme last month. But social media has more dangers for cash-strapped youngsters: they may be recruited to launder money without even being aware of it.

Advertisements offering ‘quick money’ have appeared on Instagram, Snapchat and other social networks in recent months. The ads mainly target young people, telling them that putting in 20 euros could easily earn them € 160 through payments from other people taking part. Of course, they never saw their money again, let alone make a profit.

In other cases, young people were offered money if they temporarily allowed their debit card and PIN code to be used by a third party. Usually that party was someone they vaguely knew or a fellow member of a chat group. Those who gave away their debit card and code, ended up with some unpleasant surprises. Their bank accounts were used for shady practices such as money laundering or to collect money from cybercrime victims. In these cases, the bank account holders unwittingly became part of a criminal ring. They’re called money mules.

Being a money mule has major consequences. Banks always find out and the mules end up with a criminal record. They won’t be able to open a bank account for many years. And how do you get paid your wages or sign a (rental) agreement without a bank account? Taking out a loan will be next to impossible. And any moneys lost need to be repaid.

Remember the golden rule: if an offer seems too good to be true, it mostly is. If you really want to earn money fast, then get yourself a decent job.