Kurkdroog goes criminal: how fast do young people hand over their bank card in exchange for money?

4 December 2018

Dutch gangs actively recruit young people in our country to funnel through fraud money. In exchange for their bank card and PIN, they promise young people fast money. Febelfin asked Kurkdroog to take on the role of criminals. And so, the comic duo from Antwerp investigated whether young people are really so easily tempted. In no time at all, they lured in five victims. With this action, Febelfin wants to make young people aware that they must never lend out their bank card and PIN code.

Why did Kurkdroog take to the streets?

Young people who fall into the trap, become money mules. The criminals transfer illegal money to their bank account and withdraw it in cash. This way, young people mortgage their future. Money muling is a criminal offence and money mules are often no longer allowed a bank account. Angel and Toon, the Antwerp duo known as Kurkdroog, put it to the test for Febelfin and investigated whether young people are easily fooled by criminals.

What did Kurkdroog do?

Last weekend, Kurkdroog went to the Antwerp-Central station. The duo asked just one question to a few young people: “Would you lend out your bank account so that someone can use it to transfer money from another account?”. The answer is obvious: the young people said no en masse. But is that also the case in practice?Kurkdroog set up about twenty fake Instagram accounts. It did not take long before five young people took the bait. They gave their bank account n

umber through WhatsApp. But Kurkdroog did not deposit large sums of money, as criminals would have done. Instead, Angel and Toon transferred one symbolic eurocent to the young person's account. With the statement: “Don’t do this. There is no such thing as fast money. Don't just hand out your account number.”

How did the victims of Kurkdroog react?

Most young people took it in stride, but were disappointed. They really hoped to make fast money.

The Instagram community reacted promptly. Users reported several accounts of Kurkdroog and Instagram took them offline. Just like the real criminals, Kurkdroog played a cat-and-mouse game: reported account offline, new account online.

From awareness campaign to real life...

How do criminals seek out young people?

In their search for money mules, criminals make contact with young people themselves. They use popular social media such as Instagram or WhatsApp. Or they approach them in nightlife areas, at the station, near schools etc.

The criminals promise the young people substantial compensation in return for a small “gesture”: to lend them their bank card and PIN code for a while. In practice, it works like this: the criminals deposit fraudulent money in the young person’s account. Using their bank card and the PIN code, they then withdraw the money from a cash machine. Or they use the money in casinos or to make purchases in webshops.

Is it serious for a young person to act as a money mule once?

Blinded by the prospect of making money quickly, young people usually do not realise that they are being abused. The great compensation they are promised often comes to little or nothing in practice. What’s more, they lose their bank card, too.

Once they have acted as a money mule, the criminals usually demand that they do it a few more times. If they refuse, (physical) threats soon follow.

Not only are young people risking their own safety, but they are committing a criminal offence. So they can be prosecuted. And the banks can refuse to let them have a bank account any longer.

If a minor is involved, the parents can be held liable.

What is more, the money channelled by criminals is the result of crime. It has often been stolen by phishing.

Criminals who steal money by phishing - that is by obtaining consumers’ bank details fraudulently - do not put the money straight in their own account. They always use a money mule to channel the money. So young people who act as money mules unintentionally cause a lot of human suffering.

In the first nine months of this year, criminals committed fraud 3,350 times via internet banking. In doing so, they made off with over EUR 5.5 million. If criminals can no longer find money mules to channel fraudulent money, those fraud figures will fall.

How can young people be made aware?

Three tips to make young people aware:

  • Discuss the subject with young people so that they recognise money mule practices.
  • Talk to young people about how they should deal with accounts on social media offering fast, easy money. Those accounts can be reported to the government Contact point for fraud, deception, misleading practices and scams: https://meldpunt.belgie.be/meldpunt/en/welcome.
  • Make young people aware that they should never give their bank card, their account or their bank codes to other people.

Further questions?

For more information, contact the Febelfin press service on 02 507 68 31 or via press@febelfin.be.

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