FSCA warns ‘money mule’ bank account scams are on the rise
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is warning consumers to be on their guard against fraudsters requesting access to their bank accounts to funnel the proceeds of crime in exchange for either a reward or payment.
It says this illegal activity – the “money mule” scam – has seen a significant rise recently and cash-strapped consumers are commonly targeted.
“The FSCA is aware that there has been a significant rise in money mule scams recently with criminals especially targeting vulnerable and cash-strapped individuals who are facing increasing financial pressures during challenging economic times,” it says in a statement.
The scheme involves the targeting of unsuspecting victims to receive and send money gained through illegal activities, such as drug and human trafficking, theft, fraud and corruption.
The FSCA further warns that failure by bank clients to protect their personal information could lead to imprisonment.
“The use of bank accounts for criminal purposes is illegal. Owners of bank accounts that are used to facilitate criminal activity may be charged [with] and convicted of a crime, even if they unknowingly participate in such activity.”
The authority has urged consumers to report lost or stolen identity documents to the police as well as the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) to protect themselves from criminals.
Consumers are also being warned to not respond to “unsolicited emails or messages from individuals or companies” asking for access to their bank account “or promising money in exchange for help” – and to verify any unusual or unexpected deposits with their bank.