Making Cents: Fraudsters target young adults with a variety of scams

With the summer months upon us, there are plenty of teenagers and young adults looking to earn some extra cash before heading back to school or college.

Making Cents: Fraudsters target young adults with a variety of scams

With the summer months upon us, there are plenty of teenagers and young adults looking to earn some extra cash before heading back to school or college.

Thankfully the economy has recovered to the point where there is a fair amount of seasonal work available.

However, not everyone will be able to line up a job near their home or fitting with their transport options.

Others may have work but be anxious to earn more if possible. Experts are warning that this cohort are particularly vulnerable to scams and frauds.

FraudSMART — a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), revealed that almost half (47%) of young adults aged 18 to 24 years old say they have been the target of attempted fraud on a monthly basis or more often.

The initiative is urging young people to be particularly vigilant to the threat of attempted fraud when looking for temporary work.

Their survey revealed that one in 10 (10%) targeted by fraudsters had been contacted through classified advertisements while 12% were targeted via social media channels.

“Fraudsters know that classified ads attract young people looking for part-time and casual work in exchange for cash, especially over the summer with people earning extra money for travel, entertainment and everyday living costs,” said Niamh Davenport, who leads the BPFI FraudSMART programme.

“False ads that trick young people into transferring money, handing over card details or other personal information can pop up while browsing online, show up in a social network feed, be sent by email or posted in a public place such as a community noticeboard.

“When it comes to being fraud smart, we’re urging young people to challenge what they see and check with someone they trust before signing up for more than they bargained for.”

Ms Davenport’s first piece of advice is always relevant: “If the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

FraudSMART also advises young people not to be rushed or pressured into making a decision. They should remain alert to the possibility of something being a scam, and always double check random or unexpected offers or contact.

One particular type of ad fraud, which was flagged up by Cork gardaí earlier this year, are attempts to lure people in to become money mules for international gangs.

At the end of 2018, gardaí revealed that up to 420 money mules have been identified in Ireland.

Gardaí in Cork received reports from financial institutions alerting them to accounts being used to transfer money, frequently abroad. Mules may also be asked to receive money into their accounts, which is then withdrawn.

“Even if money mules are not involved in the crimes which generate the money (cybercrime, payment and online fraud, drugs and human trafficking), they are acting illegally by laundering the proceeds of crime,” said a Garda spokesman.

Students are among those who are regularly targeted for this type of fraud so it is important to be vigilant and aware of the serious repercussions, which could include criminal charges.

Mules are typically recruited through job advertisements or online, seeking “money transfer agents”, but may also be approached through social media groups, and via email or instant messaging services.

These jobs are usually advertised as “Financial Manager” or “Payments Clerk” with no requirement other than having a bank account.

Another one to watch for is Advance Fee Fraud, where you are asked to make an advance or upfront payment for goods, services oran opportunity that does not inreality exist.

Examples that may be particularly attractive to young people include work-from-home scams, which ask you to pay an advance fee up front for insurance, training or products, or career opportunity scams, where you think you are being offered a job abroad but are asked to pay upfront for travel arrangements, accommodation or a visa.

Young people and their parents should remain vigilant and can find out more at www.fraudsmart.ie.

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