Small businesses are being targeted with an official-looking letter marked 'Final Notice' demanding £75 per employee to train them in spotting money-launderers.
The letter cites genuine money laundering laws such as the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2003. It then warns that failure to train yourself or employees colud lead to fines or imprisionment of up to 14 years.
The letter also includes a form downloaded from the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) website, which people can use to report their suspicions of any criminal activity.
However, the NCIS confirmed that the form was freely available on its website and this version had had the telephone number removed. The NCIS has received a large number of calls from people concerned about these letters and have issued alerts to official bodies.
Firms have to have adequate money laundering processes in place if they are a member of the regulated sector, which was expanded earlier this year to include estate agents, solicitors, accountants, sellers of high-value goods and casinos. But small corner shops and builders have also been targeted with these letters.
This scam is similar to the bogus data protection letters which has been reported on Shout99. In this case, the letter appear to come from an official body and demand registration fees of £85 to £120 from small businesses and threaten fines if they don't comply.
If you are targeted by fraudsters, contact the DTI on 020 7215 3120, the police or your local Trading Standards department.
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Susie Hughes © Shout99.com 2004