The financial sector federation has therefore launched a campaign aimed at them and their parents to make them aware of the dangers of online fraud.
A financial mule makes its bank account and/or its bank card and its codes available to criminals, who now recruit their prey at the school gate, in festive places or train stations, but also online. However, notes Febelfin, young people today spend a lot of time on social networks, where they are confronted daily with advertisements or messages that promise them a quick way to earn large sums of money.
Against 9,000 euros…
Arto (assumed name), an 18-year-old Belgian, is one of the many victims of this practice. “My son was approached two years ago via Instagram,” his mother told VRT. “Against 9,000 euros, he had to give his personal and bank details. But once the money was in her account, it was blocked,” she adds. It was the beginning of a long ordeal, because Arto and his relatives completely lost control over his bank account. “They abducted and threatened my son twice in the process, with weapons. He had to give them his ID card, and that’s when the hell really started”.
Because Arto was then arrested by the police, because the thugs were using his identity. “And our mailbox is full of letters from the banks in my name, in his name… We had letters from bailiffs. In May, there was even a search at our house…”.
The investigation is still ongoing, but Arto and his relatives have already lost more than 45,000 euros. “It’s a nightmare that rots our lives,” concluded the mother in the columns of Laatste Nieuws.
Big difference between youth and adults
According to a survey of young people, too many of them are still reckless when it comes to online safety. Thus, a quarter of Belgians (25%) aged 16 to 30 have shared financial data without being really comfortable during the past year. This figure marks a strong increase of 8% compared to 2021, but also a big difference with adults (11%).
In addition, 16% of young people surveyed would simply disclose their bank codes without hesitation if their “bank” asked for it, compared to 8% in 2021.
Another worrying finding, according to Febelfin: one in four young people (24%) in Belgium has never heard of phishing. A percentage, however, down from 30% in 2021.
Finally, no less than 16% of young people surveyed would be willing to give their bank card or bank details to someone they do not know in exchange for money and act as a financial mule. This is 7% more than last year.
Nearly 80% of young people have no idea what a mule is and very few of them are aware of the risks that come with it.