Wigan young adults are at increased risk of becoming “money mules” for the criminal underworld.
For the number of people in their late teens and early 20s duped into unwittingly laundering cash for organised gangs has risen by a third, figures suggest.
Research from Cifas, a fraud prevention service, showed there were 8,474 such cases involving victims under the age of 21 in 2017, a jump from 6,218 the previous year, meaning a rise of 36 per cent.
More young people also fell prey to identity fraud, with 2,321 becoming victim, up from 1,780 in 2016.
Chief executive of Cifas Simon Dukes said: “It is critical that we take every opportunity to educate young people on how to protect themselves from being either fraud victims or fraud perpetrators.
“When it comes to acting as a money mule, unwittingly or not, it is a serious crime that not only has consequences for the individual concerned, but also for society as a whole.”
Money mule scams work by criminals posting fake job adverts or on social media about the chance to make money fast.
They then pay money into the target’s account, telling them to keep some of the cash themselves and move the rest elsewhere.
According to Action Fraud, even if you were unaware that the money was made illegally, you can still be prosecuted for your part in fraud and money laundering.
The rise in the number of young people falling for scams has prompted Cifas to join with education body the PHSE Association to create four new lessons for 11 to 16-year-olds to raise awareness of fraud, common scams, identity fraud and money mules among children.
HRMC describes money laundering as exchanging money or assets that were obtained criminally for money or other assets that are “clean.”
The clean money or assets don’t have an obvious link with any criminal activity.
Money laundering also includes money that is used to fund terrorism, however it is obtained.
Regulations already apply to business sectors such as financial and credit businesses, accountants and estate agents. However the Government has made an announcement regarding a new register which will provide greater transparency on overseas companies.
A world-first register revealing owners of overseas companies buying property in the UK will go live by early 2021 to crack down on criminal gangs laundering dirty money in the UK.
Cyber crime in general has been steeply increasing for years now.