Surrey residents are being urged not to fall for the latest scam, with fraudsters attempting to obtain money by persuading victims that piles of banknote-sized paper in a trunk or a safe are actually currency notes that have been dyed to avoid detection by authorities.
Victims of the “black money scam”, also known as the "black dollar scam" or "wash wash scam", are then persuaded to pay fees and purchase chemicals to remove the dye, with the promise of a share in the proceeds.
Typically the fraudsters will send out thousands of e-mails, but have also been known to approach the victim directly.
The conmen will then say that certain fees and expenses need to be paid, including government taxes, or death duties, to extract funds from the victim. Eventually the victim will be persuaded that the trunk contains a very large amount of cash which has all been stained black or another colour to avoid detection by customs.
The victim will then be asked to inspect the contents of the safety deposit trunk and told that the stain can be removed with chemicals. Some conmen even go as far as washing a stained note, replacing it with a real note when the victim is not looking.
Detective Constable Lawrence Burden, who is investigating a report involving the black money scam, said: “We want people to be aware of the latest scam so that they don’t fall victim to it. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Although we are investigating a report involving this scam, we are conscious that victims may not want to come forward because they might be embarrassed that they have fallen for it.
“However, we would urge anyone who does believe they have been the victim of this scam to come forward as soon as possible so that we can investigate and try to identify those responsible. Scams of this kind are extremely cruel and often lead to victims parting with thousands of pounds worth of hard-earned money. We just want people to be aware that this is going and not to have any involvement with it.”