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Transferring money for someone else

What is a scam involving the transfer of money for someone else?

Offers that involve transferring money for someone you don’t know are nearly always a scam. They could also be money laundering, which is illegal. Money laundering is when somebody tries to ‘launder’ money they have earned from a crime to make it look like it came from a legal source. They do this by putting the money through a series of bank accounts to hide its original (and usually illegal) source.

If you are approached with this scam, you will be asked to transfer money for somebody using your own bank account or a bank account that you set up for this purpose. The approach could come in a number of ways—by a letter similar to the Nigerian scams, by an offer that sounds like a work from home opportunity or in any other way which means you have to hand over bank account details to a stranger. The scams often offer you a commission simply for receiving money into your bank account and then transferring it out again. The commission can be as high as 15 per cent or more of the amount transferred.

If you agree to take part, the scammer could use your account details to clean out your savings.

However, some scammers actually do send money across. This money might come from organised crime or from the proceeds of other scams like internet banking scams.

You may even find that the scammer is keeping their word and lets you keep a small percentage of the total transferred. However, you may also find that the scammer then asks you why you have not transferred some money that you did not receive. The scammer might then pressure you to make up for the ‘missing payment’ out of your own pocket.

Even if none of this happens, if you agree to transfer money in this way you may find that you are being used to cover someone else’s tracks. If the authorities follow the money trail from a crime that the person scamming you was involved in, it could lead straight to your bank account.

Warning signs

  • You receive an offer that involves you receiving and sending money electronically.
  • The offer requests your account details so that money can be sent to your account.
  • There is a promise of employment simply by using your bank account, perhaps as an ‘account manager’ or ‘transfer manager’.
  • The scammer will suggest that they need an account in your country so they can conduct their business (e.g. trading shares).

Protect yourself from money transfer scams

  • Use your common sense: the offer may be a scam.
  • Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
  • Beware of products or schemes that claim to guarantee income or winnings.
  • Beware of job offers that require you to pay an upfront fee.
  • Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam)—delete them.
  • Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes—the only people who make money are the scammers.
  • Money laundering is a criminal offence—do not agree to transfer money for someone else.

As well as following these specific tips, find out how to protect yourself from all sorts of other scams.

Do your homework

If you have been approached by someone asking you to transfer money for them, delete the email, throw away the letter or say no. Ask yourself—why would anyone want to pay someone that they do not know to transfer so much money?

These offers are always scams. You should remember that transferring money for someone else could be money laundering. If you agree to help the scammer by letting them use your bank account, you could be getting yourself in serious trouble.

Decide

You should never give out your personal or bank account details to somebody you don’t know and trust. Don’t let the fact that an offer sounds enticing or genuine trick you. If the offer came in an email, do not respond to the email or try to unsubscribe from it. This will only confirm to the scammers that your email address is valid.

If you still think the offer may be genuine, make sure you seek the advice of an independent professional (lawyer, accountant or financial planner) before providing any personal details.

Report them

If you have been approached about transferring money for someone else, or if you have provided your bank account or other personal details to someone and you now realise it is a scam, you can report it through the SCAMwatch website.

If you have set up a bank account, or given out your own bank account details in response to one of these scams, contact your bank or credit union immediately and do not transfer any more money.

You should also spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues to protect them.

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See a money transfer scam example

If you are able to recognise the warning signs, you can take an active role in reducing the likelihood of being a victim.

We have published a range of example scams so you can see how the scammers trick you. Visit see-a-scam to help you learn how to recognise the warning signs.

If you read the information on transferring money for someone else and study our money transfer scam examples, you will stand a much better chance of staying ahead of the scammers.

Prevention is the most effective tool against scams.

What to do if you've been scammed; Scams & the law; Report a scam.

Similar scams:


You are promised huge rewards if you help someone transfer money out of their country by paying fees or giving them your bank account details.

You are asked to send money upfront for a product or ‘reward’. You will end up with something much less than you expected, or nothing at all.

You are sent a cheque for something you have sold, but it is for more than the amount agreed. The scammer hopes you will refund the extra money before you notice that their cheque has bounced.

Employment opportunities that promise huge incomes with little work – usually by asking you to transfer money for someone else or recruit new victims.

Phishing emails are fake emails usually pretending to be from banks or other financial institutions. They make up some reason for you to give your account details and then use these details to steal your money.

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