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Teach your child to avoid easy money scams


Easy money scams are used by criminal networks to commit fraud through someone else's bank account and prevent authorities from tracking them down. This type of money laundering is also known as the money mule scam.


What the scammers do

This tactic can be used against anyone, but young people are common targets for these kinds of scams. Scammers approach them on social media or in public places and ask if they can make transactions in the victim's bank account in return for cash. They'll say it's a quick, easy and risk-free way to make money. But because the money was made illegally, participating in the scam is a crime.


Learn how to spot a scam


Generally speaking, scams take different forms and often target vulnerable victims. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Someone the victim doesn't know, who might claim to be a friend of a friend, contacts them on social media or in a public place
  • The victim receives a tempting offer to make a lot of money quickly and with no risk or effort
  • They're asked to imperatively make transfers, withdrawals or other transactions with their account
  • They need to give their banking information to someone
  • The victim is promised a cut of the money in exchange for using their account

To educate your child and heighten their reflexes so they won't be victims of fraud, you need to know how a fraudster might get in touch with your child. This way, they can pick up on the right clues.


1. It's unexpected

They won a contest they never entered? They got a notification or text message for a package they didn't order? Someone called to inform them of a computer issue they need to fix? Ask yourself: "Did they initiate this request?"


2. It's really urgent (and there's a reason for it)

Whether it's a question of accepting an offer quickly, sending a payment or providing information, they need to act now or there will be immediate consequences. The fraudster is using pressure to provoke panic and fast action, not allowing the victim to step back, question the situation, do some research and figure out that something isn't right.


3. The tone is threatening—or on the contrary, very polite

The scammer will try to instill fear, using insults or threats to stir up strong emotions and keep the victim off-balance. Or, on the other hand, the criminal might be very courteous and affectionate, preying on emotional vulnerability.


4. It's not normal to ask someone for this information

If someone asks for personal or confidential information (like a password, PIN or social insurance number), ask yourself who this person is and why they need this information. Never let your child give out this information if they didn't initiate the call.


5. The source of the message looks fishy

Is the message filled with mistakes or typos? Does the email address come from a free email service or look like a company name with a few extra characters added? These are telltale signs of a phishing attempt.


Whether it's an email, a social network, a text message or a phone call, your child should stop and think before clicking on a link, opening an attachment or replying to messages from people or companies they don't know or that show other signs of a potential scam.


6. It sounds too good to be true

Unless it’s an auction, ask yourself whether it's normal to be offered much more than the asking price for a product sold online, or why someone would offer a new or nearly new item that's highly sought after (like a video game console, race bike or smartphone) at a derisory price. When an offer seems too good to be true, trust your instincts.


7. It's top secret

Has your child been told a scoop that no one else should know about? Has someone in trouble asked them for money, insisting they don't contact the authorities? The real purpose of these instructions is to prevent your child from talking to someone they know who might be familiar with the scam and warn them about it.