Who is most at risk of being targeted?
In recent years, around half of these crimes were committed by those under the age of 24 – usually targeted through social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram. However, the last 12 months has seen a surge in cases in older groups too – a 26% rise in those aged 31 to 39 and 29% in over forties, according to research from Lloyds Bank.
So why the jump in age? Well, as I say, the current cost of living crisis could be a factor. Right now, the prospect of quick cash could be particularly appealing to those out-of-pocket, no matter their age or social position. And, simply put, the more legitimate the job advert or company looks, the more likely victims will be to take the bait.
As a rule, though, it’s worth remembering no legitimate company will ever ask its customers to use their own bank accounts to transfer money. We also encourage our customers to be sceptical of any unexpected job offers too, especially from people or companies overseas – these can be especially tricky to verify.
Worryingly, almost one in 10 (9%) of those surveyed aged between 18 and 24 said they would be prepared to transfer money through their bank accounts in exchange for a fee. This makes them sitting ducks for criminals. It also highlights the need for more education amongst young people on the dangers of engaging with strangers through social media apps or phony job adverts offering ‘quick cash.’
It’s one of the reasons why fraud training has been at the centre of our partnership with the City of London Police. Together, we’ve developed the ‘Cyber Detectives’ education programme to help safeguard primary school children online. And we’re proud to say that the programme now forms part of the PSHE (Personal Social Health and Economics) element of the national curriculum in England.
How we can spot mule accounts
Mule accounts are seldom opened with a fake ID or documentation. Instead, fraudsters opt for real accounts that have been sold on, or those used normally before being loaded with the stolen money.
To combat this, in 2018 Lloyds Bank launched a tenacious team of fraud-fighters to combat money mule accounts. So far, this dedicated ‘mule-hunting’ team has uncovered a staggering 130,000 mule accounts and prevented over £91 million from falling into the hands of brazen fraudsters.
Indeed, since its formation, the team has developed cutting-edge techniques which allow them to rapidly analyse data and spot the tell-tale signs, patterns and behaviour associated with fraudulent activity.