As a freelancer, I have recently accepted a project and the employer agreed to make an upfront of nearly $3000. I asked him to send the money to my uncle's account in the UK. He agreed. I provided him with my uncle's IBAN, BIC, etc., and an international wire transfer of my pay was made to my uncle's account within a few days. The employer sent me the receipt attached to an email as proof of payment.
However, for nearly a week the payment has not been deposited in the uncle's account yet, and thus I contacted the bank (Alpha Capital SPRL) and they replied to me:
As such, in anticipation of an upcoming payment due to be released to your account, we kindly request your immediate attention and action on two critical steps:
1. AML Check: We have enlisted a third-party provider to facilitate this check. Please use the Whatsapp[ +1 639 299 7109] number here to complete the AML check within the next 48 hours.
2. Refundable Deposit: We also require a refundable deposit of 196€ as part of our transaction security procedures. This deposit should be transferred to the following bank account as instructed via Whatsapp. Rest assured, this deposit will be refunded back to you upon successful completion of the AML check.
Please note, the anticipated payment will only be released to your account once these steps have been successfully completed.
Deadline: Please complete these actions by [Date, 48 hours from now]. Failure to complete these actions within the stipulated time may result in a delay in releasing your payment.
We understand that these procedures may require some of your valuable time and we greatly appreciate your understanding and prompt response. If you encounter any issues or need further clarification, please feel free to reply back to this email.
Would you please indicate to me if these required steps are legal? Is my uncle supposed to pay a refundable deposit of 196€? Is it secure?