Be aware! Allowing proceeds of crime to be laundered through your bank account, knowingly or unknowingly, is a criminal offence. Bank clients can be charged and convicted for money laundering and even receive a prison sentence.
Criminals approach bank customers with requests to have funds paid into their accounts and often offer them a reward for the use of the account. Often the money that is paid into the account is proceeds of another crime. The account holder can be charged with money laundering even if it was unknown at the time that the money was proceeds of crime.
An example of the above modus operandi is where a criminal (A), committing a fraudulent or fake sale of a car, approaches a legitimate bank account holder (B) and requests the use of their account to facilitate the sale by receiving the funds on A’s behalf. A reward is promised to B in payment for the use of their account. Often, B and the buyer of the vehicle (C) hold accounts at the same bank to ensure that the funds are cleared faster – which is the reason given to B for needing the use of the account. This reasoning, coupled with the promise of a reward serves as motivation for B, making them more likely to assist. C is given B’s account particulars to make payment. C has become the victim of a fraudulent sale while B has become the money mule by receiving the proceeds of a crime into their bank account
Criminals also approach people with valid identification documents and ask them to open accounts for them to transact on because they do not have the correct documentation to qualify for an account. Because foreign nationals experience such difficulties and people want to be neighbourly, many people have been tricked into opening accounts that are subsequently used by criminals to launder money.
- Do not open a Bank account in your name on behalf of another person, irrespective of the circumstances.
- Do not allow your account to be used by another person to deposit or transact on, even if the person if known to you.
- If you suspect that the money you are being paid with is the proceeds of crime; immediately report this matter to the police.