Scam warning for Fylde residents

Money

A LANCASHIRE resident who applied online for a job as a mystery shopper became the victim of a scam to launder money overseas.

Lancashire County Council Trading Standards is highlighting the case to warn people how easy it is to fall foul of criminals who operate on the internet.

The woman was sent fraudulent travellers cheques worth 2,000 Euros after applying to a website which offered the chance to earn money from home by becoming a mystery shopper.

She received email instructions to pay the cheques into her own account and keep 200 Euros for carrying out two assignments which involved reporting on the customer service of a supermarket and a money-transfer outlet.

Part of the survey at the money transfer outlet was to send the remaining 1,800 Euros on to the next mystery shopper who, in this instance, was based in the Philippines. However, the woman became suspicious before trying to pay the cheques into the bank, and it was discovered they were sophisticated forgeries.

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “It would appear the opportunity to work as a mystery shopper was a ruse being used by criminals to use the unwitting victim to cash their forged cheques and transfer the money abroad.

“Anyone trying to cash fake cheques would potentially be implicated in money laundering and face having to repay the bank the 2,000 Euros.

“Our advice is to be suspicious of any scheme that involves handling money or cheques for a third party and to be very careful who you give your name and address details to online.

“This has all the hallmarks of being a complex international fraud, and an attempt to involve Lancashire people in a money-laundering ring. This type of scam often targets people who may already be struggling financially and are looking for ways to earn money from home.”

Anyone with information regarding financial scams can report the matter to Action Fraud www.actionfraud.police.uk, telephone 0300 123 2040.

You can keep up to date on the latest scams sweeping the county by following Lancashire Trading Standards’ online advisor Scambuster Stan on Facebook.

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