Students are vulnerable and are targets for money muling. Research reveals that 6 in 10 (61%) university students worry about their financial situation on a weekly basis and 6 in 10 (57%) would be tempted to find out more about a ‘too good to be true’ job advert that offered ‘easy money with no experience’, and half (50 per cent) would be interested in an offer of ‘free money from the comfort of your own home’.

John Yoxall, South Yorkshire Police Sergeant on the Digital Investigations and Intelligence Team, said: “There are uptrends where technology is enabling traditional crimes to be carried out quickly and easier and a lot more effective. Cyber opens new problems because criminals don’t have to be in Sheffield to hurt people in Sheffield.

“Don’t reply to the email, or be pressured into paying: it only highlights that you’re vulnerable and you could be targeted again. Engaging in it enables your account to be subjected to a data breach, often without your knowledge. The police advise that you do not pay criminals. Try flagging the email as spam/junk if you receive it multiple times.

 “Particularly with new students with new bank accounts, they become targets of consort actors for money laundering. Students have a nice clean banking history and no suspicions flagged up on them. 

 “They will either ask you to receive funds and then transfer it on and/or cash it out then hand it over and you may get a percentage or cut for yourself.

“It’s quick easy money, you are in effect getting involved in organised crime so don’t do it, report it. We now offer support advice and guidance.”

SYP has advised to not disclose details of personal accounts, pins and passwords as well as to remain vigilant about job opportunities and being coerced into receiving ‘easy money’ by doing research before considering accepting the opportunity. Hovering over links or email addresses before clicking can indicate if it will redirect to another site or the correct one. 

Mohammed Hussain, Digital Media Investigator, said: “Sheffield has always been one of the safest places for students. We want to maintain that by keeping people safe online and hoping that there is confidence in reporting important matters.

“Particular at this time of year as the new term starts, we need to get the message out to students about keeping themselves safe online. If you are a victim of cybercrime and the police don’t know about it, we can’t do anything about it. 

 “Make sure privacy settings are updated. When you are applying for jobs, first place employers look for these days is social media presence. It also protects you from unauthorised access, stops you from potentially compromising situations, and sustain your prospects in the long term run. 

“Use a two-factor authentication or anti-virus software and ensure all software or apps are up to date. Having a password manager will securely store passwords and make it easier to remember. You should always be backing up data in case of data loss such as malware taking over your computer.

“If you’re getting money from doing nothing or if you click on a link that promises you rewards for clicking on the link, take five minutes and think about it.”

Organised criminal networks recruit people with existing bank accounts to engage in money laundering to store illegally sourced money, commonly amongst drugs, fraud, terrorism funding and child exploitation.  

Terms such as “Squares”, “AC”, “Flips”, “Easy Cash Schemes” or “Money Transfer jobs” implicitly refer to money mulling. Being complicit to cybercrime could jeopardise anyone’s credit rating and expose the risk of committing a criminal offence such as breaching the bank’s terms and conditions, having accounts closed, compromising their credit rating and getting involved in criminal proceedings.

Marks on credit ratings last for six years, making it difficult to access student loans, obtain simple credit like contracts for a mobile phone, open up another bank account, rent a property or get a mortgage. Criminal convictions can also affect employability and travelling. 

Report cybercrime to South Yorkshire Police at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by phoning 101

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