Businesses across Derbyshire are being urged to be on their guard against money laundering fraudsters.
Police are teaming up with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to raise awareness of a new type of scam which sees overseas ‘investors’ tricking victims into laundering money.
The scam starts with fraudsters phoning or emailing their victims claiming to be interested in investing in new start-up companies in the UK. They then build trust and over time convince victims that the money they are transferring into their business accounts is for “investments”.
The fraudsters know the limits that will be flagged by each bank and only transfer small amounts at a time to avoid detection. These investments are in fact a vehicle to launder the proceeds of crime into the UK from other scams, including money lost from victims of online dating fraud.
Money laundering is a crime and business owners can be jailed.
The NFIB Proactive Intelligence Team recently interviewed a former convicted businesses owner, who said: “I don’t know why I was a target. I had a small engineering company which I was trying to get off the ground. The first contact I had was by email from an investment company in the Middle East.
“They said that they wanted to invest some capital into my company and they had other business interests in the UK.
“They only transferred a few thousand pounds at a time so the bank never questioned it.”
Top tips for keeping your business safe from money laundering fraudsters -
n Be extremely cautious about unsolicited emails or messages from people offering to invest in your business;
n Do not share your financial details with anyone you don’t know and trust, particularly if it’s someone that first contacted you via an unsolicited message;
n Carry out thorough research on the potential investor before you accept any money. Check to see whether the company is properly registered as a business in the country they operate in.
If you have been, or suspect you may have been a victim of this scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk