Police Scotland Arrest 16 in Cybercrime Inquiry
A group consisting of 15 men and one woman were arrested over the course of last week by the Police Scotland’s Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit for allegedly acting as ‘money mules’ in online scams.
Officers targeted five premises that were allegedly connected to vishing fraud phone calls (vishing is when fraudsters target victims via landline, mobile phone and text messages). Police Scotland said that the individuals aged between 16 to 51 had allegedly been earning quick cash as ‘money mules’ by allowing their bank accounts to be used to launder the proceeds of crime.
Police Scotland warned that in 2017 there was a 105% increase in the number of individuals being used as money mules across the UK. More than half are under 30, with students and the unemployed most vulnerable to being exploited as mules. Penalties for money laundering are severe, even for those who become involved unwittingly with a potential 14 year prison term, bank account closure and long-term damage to their credit rating.
Detective Constable Brian Bennie said: “Even if you’re unaware that the money you’re transferring was illegally obtained, you’ve played a significant role in fraud and money laundering and can still be prosecuted, facing life-changing consequences.”
Cybercrime on the Rise
According to detectives, since summer 2017 more than £7 million was stolen from Scottish businesses and individuals through cybercrime. People were targeted through emails, phone calls and texts by criminals who used genuine looking phone numbers and email addresses while claiming to work for a bank or company asking for account details or personal information. Police Scotland is warning people to be alert and aware that banks do not contact customers asking for personal information or to carry out a transaction.
Detective Inspector Graeme Everest said: “Police Scotland will continue to target individuals who facilitate the movement of criminal funds through their bank accounts. These people are tools of the fraudsters and without their assistance, the movement of criminal funds cannot be achieved. If you are approached and asked to provide your account numbers to another for this purpose, then don’t.”