Money laundering is traditionally viewed as a crime largely centred around large international businesses. However, an alert from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) Proactive Intelligence Team is warning small businesses across the UK to be aware of a new type of scam which aims to dupe small businesses into unwittingly launder the proceeds of crimes around the world.
According the NFIB, the scam starts with an email or phone call from fraudsters outside the UK who tell SME owners they are interested in “investing” in new start-up companies within the UK.
Having worked on winning the trust of their target, the fraudsters then convince them that the investment funds they want to transfer into the target business account is for growth capital.
However, these ‘investments’ are, in fact, a fraudulent attempt to launder criminal proceeds from other scams into the UK financial system, and washing them clean to be used in further crimes.
‘Protect your company’
The NFIB has issued the following checklist to help small businesses avoid being fooled by this scam:
– Be extremely cautious about unsolicited emails or messages from people offering to invest in your business.
– Do not share your financial details with anyone you don’t know and trust, particularly if it’s someone that first contacted you via an unsolicited message.
– Carry out thorough research on the potential investor before you accept any money. Check to see whether the company is properly registered as a business in the country they operate in. For example, all UK PLC,LTD and LLP businesses are registered with Companies House. You can contact the relevant trading standards authority or local government office to enquire about whether they’ve received any complaints about the company.