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'Alarming' rise in under 21s falling victim to fraud

Young woman with lap top and card Image copyright Getty Images

More and more youngsters under the age of 21 are falling victim to money scams, according to the anti-fraud organisation Cifas.

In the first nine months of the year, it said, 3,527 young people had experienced identity fraud, an increase of 24% on 2017.

Most of the cases involved debit, credit and store cards.

They include instances where criminals have applied to banks to get the cards issued in false names.

"Our new figures are alarming to say the least," said Mike Haley, the chief executive officer of Cifas.

"For all of us, as parents, teachers, and responsible citizens, we have a duty to ensure we're taking every opportunity to educate young people on the dangers of becoming a fraud victim - and equally, a perpetrator of fraud."

In most cases, the banks usually accept liability where individuals have not been negligent.

Prison sentences

The Cifas figures also indicate a rise in the number of youngsters becoming so-called money mules.

In the first nine months of 2018, as many as 9,636 people under the age of 21 agreed that criminals could use their bank account to launder cash.

That was a 26% increase on the same period in 2017.

Sometimes the young people are told to move the money electronically, and sometimes they are asked to withdraw cash before passing it on in person.

The offence can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Alternatively, individuals can be denied the use of a bank account for up to six years.

Cifas is now calling on the banks to do more to warn young people about the dangers of such fraud.

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