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Facebook fraud gangs turn gullible middle-class teenagers into criminal 'money mules' by persuading them to launder cash through their own accounts

DailyMail.com - Jaber Mohamed And Ben Ellery - 16-01-02 Click here for original article       Back to Articles

  • Criminal gangs using Facebook to lure middle-class teenagers into scams
  • Youngsters promised the chance to make up to 12,000 in just half an hour
  • Offer their bank accounts so hackers can deposit funds stolen from victims
  • But the teenagers are risking a 14-year jail sentence for money-laundering

Gullible middle-class teenagers are being lured through Facebook to join criminal gangs in bank account hacking scams, a Mail on Sunday investigation has discovered.

The youngsters are being promised the chance to make up to 12,000 in just half an hour via the social networking site.

They offer their bank accounts to fraudsters as a place to deposit funds plundered from innocent hacking victims.

The 'card mules' then withdraw the cash and split the proceeds with the criminals, helping them to avoid detection by police.

However, the youngsters leave themselves open to being prosecuted for money-laundering -- and they are risking a maximum 14-year jail sentence.

Our investigators found hundreds of Facebook pages where gang members advertise for accomplices to help them carry out frauds.

They tempt teenagers with photographs of themselves in nightclubs or shopping malls posing with the proceeds of their crime, including wads of cash, Apple computers and shopping bags from designer stores such as Louis Vuitton. One page had almost 9,000 members.


Revealed: Middle-class teenagers are being
lured through Facebook to join criminal gangs
in bank account hacking scams. A Mail on
Sunday reporter his face obscured) meets the fraudsters' runner

Last week police launched an investigation and Facebook took urgent action to close the pages after being alerted by this newspaper. But within a day, new pages had appeared as Facebook seemed powerless to stop the epidemic.

Andy Norton, from computer security company FireEye, said: 'Facebook needs to work more closely with the police to shut down these gangs. They are brazenly advertising on Facebook and are being allowed to rip people off.'

Scammers gain access to their victim's money by hacking their online bank account and then transferring the funds to the accomplices they recruit via Facebook.

Our reporter posed as a youngster willing to help the criminal gangs and was contacted by a fraudster known as 'James Payper'.

Gullible: The youngsters are being promised the chance to make up to 12,000 in just half an hour via the social networking site by offering their bank accounts to fraudsters. The fraudsters' runner is again pictured.


Facebook messages and images of cash (pictured) tempt teenagers to launder money for criminal gangs

He offered the reporter the chance to make between 4,000 and 12,000 in just 30 minutes and promised to split any proceeds '50/50' if he could deposit cash in the reporter's account and then meet up to withdraw it from a bank.

Our investigator was told to bring his bank card to a busy London Tube station, where it would be picked up by the fraudster's associate, known as a 'runner.'

The baby-faced runner told our reporter: 'To avoid being caught by the police after you cash out, you should ring up your bank and say your card has been stolen.'

He also advised the reporter to empty his account before laundering the money. However, our man made his excuses and left without handing over his bank card.

The exposure of apparent criminal activity on Facebook is hugely embarrassing for the company and police.

Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey said: 'The Mail on Sunday revelations bring home how rapidly internet crime is growing. More police resources are necessary to tackle internet criminality.'

In November, a Mail on Sunday investigation revealed that credit and debit card details of customers from major high street banks, including HSBC, Barclays, NatWest and Halifax, were available for sale on the 'dark web'.

Hackers advertised internet and telephone banking log-in details for accounts.

All the details needed to raid one account, allegedly containing 11,000, were for sale for 2,879. They included the account holder's name, address, 16-digit card number, three-digit security number, and the card expiry date.

Last night Facebook confirmed that the profiles flagged up to them by The Mail on Sunday had been removed as they violated its 'community standards', and the company said it was continuing its investigation into the matter.

According to the Office of National Statistics, there were an estimated 3.8 million victims of online fraud in England and Wales last year. The shocking figures have prompted many to question the ability of police to tackle such crime.

A National Crime Agency spokesman said: 'Recruiting "mules" to help launder the proceeds of crime is an established criminal methodology, and the web has presented new opportunities to target people.'

The Mail on Sunday has shared the information gathered as part of our investigation with the Metropolitan Police and with the national fraud reporting service, Action Fraud, run by City of London Police.

A City of London Police spokesman said: 'This may seem like an easy way to make money, but all those who choose to launder the criminal gains of others should be under no illusion that they are committing a crime in their own right and will be treated by police accordingly.'

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