The cheques are offered as reimbursement for ‘initial costs’ for a new job. Victims have been models or drivers looking for work online and in Staffordshire, they have all been aged under 40.
The scam works in the following way: the model or driver (victim) places or replies to an advert for employment. The scammer contacts the victim and offers a contract of employment. The scammer sends the victim a (counterfeit) traveller’s cheque to cover the cost of hiring a car or make-up artist and the victim is asked to deposit the cash into a beneficiary account.
The cheque is cashed/deposited and the model/driver unwittingly becomes a “money mule” which is someone who unknowingly launders money though their day-to-day accounts, or through accounts specifically set up for the purpose of receiving or sending illegal funds.
Det Insp Robert Harvmann of Staffordshire Police said, “This type of scam is becoming more prevalent. It’s a clever system, as people don’t suspect anything. Because they’re being paid for work they’ve done or expenses they’ve incurred, they don’t realise there’s anything criminal happening.
“By following this advice, you can protect yourself from being involved unwittingly in money laundering.”
Be wary of any employer who sends a cheque for more than the agreed amount and asks you to send cash to them, or anyone else. Research as much about the individual or company who practice this type of scheme prior to making any financial transaction involving them.
Check any documents for poor spelling and grammar – this is often a sign that fraudsters are at work.
If you are uncertain whether an employer is genuine then give them a call, ask for references or use an online search engine to see if anything of concern comes up.
If you are uploading your CV onto an online job board avoid including valuable identification details and definitely do not include any financial details.
Unless you are sure the job advertisement is genuine, be protective of your National Insurance number, passport number and bank details. This is all someone needs to pretend to be you and make purchases or open accounts in your name.
Warn the operators of the website where you placed your CV that their site is possibly being used by fraudsters. “
If you suspect you have been a victim of this type of fraud, please contact Action fraud on 0300 123 2042 or online.