Across the country, young people are increasingly being asked by fraudsters to receive and send money through their own bank accounts, sometimes keeping some of the cash for themselves. This is commonly known as being a money mule.
Criminals need money mules to launder the profits of their crimes. Mules will usually be unaware of where the money comes from – often fraud and scams– and that it can go on to fund crimes such as drug trafficking and people smuggling.
Fraudsters will approach young people online or in person, including through social media, and at school, college or sports clubs. Sometimes it’s people they know who persuade them to become a money mule, often because they are also doing it.
Being a money mule is illegal.
When someone is caught, their bank account will be closed, and they will have problems getting student loans, mobile phone contracts and credit in the future. They could even face arrest for money laundering which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
We need to warn young people about the dangers and consequences of becoming a money mule.
Telltale signs that someone might be involved include them suddenly having extra cash, buying expensive new clothes or mobile phones and gadgets with very little explanation of how they got the money. They may also become secretive, withdrawn or appear stressed.
You can find our more information and advice by visiting www.moneymules.co.uk
If you are worried that someone close to you might be caught up in money muling, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
You can also report a fraud to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or calling 0300 123 2040.
Please do not attempt to contact any individual you suspect of being involved in money muling.