Have you ever thought about spending the day. . . in your coziest lounging outfit pecking away at your laptop keyboard from the comfort of your sofa while hundreds of dollars magically flow electronically into your bank account each day? Those junk email work-at-home ads make it seem like the ideal job is just a click away.
Along with far too many offers for fake Rolex and other prestige brand wrist watches, I’m seeing an increase in offers for jobs in my junk mail. The scams are so clever they are getting past the filters into my main email inbox. The subject lines tell you the watches are fake. But, the job offers for “shipping manager” and “accounting position” don’t mention that you could be arrested!
The real job title is “mule” for laundering money or stolen goods. You are asked to open a new bank account in your own name, accept anonymous payments into that account and then transfer the money by wire to your employers, usually in Eastern Europe.
In the USA, the maximum penalty for money laundering is 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. Other countries have similar penalties.
Even if you didn’t know what was going on, you could still be arrested and prosecuted.
If you are a savvy computer user, you know you need to ignore these junk emails. But, they are so much harder to brush off when your employer has just announced job cuts. The temptation to try risky actions is not so easy to fight off when fear for our family’s welfare sets in.
My Dad refused to touch a computer. It terrified him. Other seniors, even 70-80 years old, don’t have that fear. They, too, may be vulnerable to these scams after seeing their retirement funds dwindle.
Have That Conversation!
It’s always a good idea to mention issues like these to your family’s computer users - seniors, teens in high school or college and everyone in between. You can email a link to the ABC News article, “Bad Economy Helps Web Scammers Recruit ‘Mules’.” Or, you can mention it as a way to open the conversation to broader financial issues. “Some people are being tricked by web scams that offer work-from-home jobs because they are worried about expenses . . . ”
Until someone comes up with a solution to scam emails, the best defense is awareness and your delete key.
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