Young People Warned to Watch out for Money Laundering

Friday, 19th July, 2019

Police are warning students and young people not to fall victim to money laundering fraudsters.

Criminals are targeting young people who have bank accounts with the promise of ‘free and easy money’.

To get access to this money, ‘all’ the recipient needs to do is provide access to a bank account which criminals then use to launder illegal cash.

The process, known as ‘squaring,’ is on the rise in West Yorkshire having recently been identified as an emerging threat to young people.

By knowing the signs of the crime and knowing how to prevent them officers are hoping less people will get involved in the crime

Detective Inspector Jan Little of West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, has a released a short video about the crime;

“Criminals – often from Organised Crime Groups - are particularly targeting 16 to 18 year olds because they know banks will not discuss an individual’s bank account with parents/guardians without the consent of the account holder.

“They are mainly using social media channels to do their recruiting with catchy soundbites like: “Are you aged 16-18 with your own bank account, want to earn risk free cash?  DM me.”

“The criminal will then deposit cash – usually between £300 - £1000 (although there have been amounts as high as £10,000 in West Yorkshire) and then meet the individual in town to withdraw the cash with the promise of the person keeping a percentage as their ‘cut’ usually £50 for every £1000. In some cases the individuals have handed over bank cards and pin codes giving the criminal complete control of the account.

“Withdrawals are also being made from foreign exchange bureaus with the ‘buy back’ facility used at a different branch.

“Organised Crime Group members are deliberately targeting young and / or potentially naïve people – but those who get involved usually do not know who they are associated with and are putting themselves at personal risk when meeting others.

“Those involved are actually committing an offence (Money Laundering) which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years and are also at risk of being further drawn into crime and may find that their bank account is stopped, they are unable to get a student loan and they cannot secure a mobile phone contract.

“I want to appeal directly to young people to be aware of squaring so they don’t fall foul of it as well as to parents /guardians so they can speak to their children and warn them of the risks.”

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