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Money Mule Scams Double For Students, Graduates & Other Young People

30 Nov 2017

Money Mule Scams Double For Students, Graduates & Other Young People

The number of ‘money mule’ scams targeting young people have more than doubled in the last twelve months, a record rise over a one year period.

For young people aged under 21, the number of reported cases surged by 105 per cent over the last year to almost 6,500 cases. Amongst the wider 18 to 24 year old age range, money mule cases rose by 75 per cent in the twelve months to the end of September, with over 8,600 bank accounts said to have been compromised.

Money mules scams are where people are recruited by criminals, often unwittingly, to transfer illicit funds between different bank accounts, often in different countries.

Typically, the ‘mules’ receive the stolen money into their own bank account and are persuaded to wire the money to a different account, usually with the incentive of keeping a commission for themselves in return. The criminals thus manage to launder illegal funds, often without the mule knowing that he or she has done anything wrong.

However, as we all know, ignorance is not a plea, and money laundering, with or without the explicit knowledge that that is what you are doing, is a very, very serious offence. If convicted, young people can look forward to more than a decade in prison for becoming a money mule.

Cifas is a not-for-profit organisation working to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime in the UK. Its chief executive, Simon Dukes, said: “The criminals behind money mules often use the cash to fund major crime, like terrorism and people-trafficking. We want to educate young people about how serious this fraud is in the hope that they will think twice before getting involved.”

Katy Worobec, Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Prevention, Cyber and Data Sharing at UK Finance, an organisation which represents financial firms, said: “Money muling is money laundering and criminals are using young people as mules in increasing numbers. We know that students are particularly vulnerable as they are often short of cash.”

“When you are caught, your bank account will be closed, making it difficult to access cash and credit. You could even face up to 14 years in jail. We’re urging people not to give their bank account details to anyone unless they know and trust them. If an offer of easy money sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” stressed Ms Worobec.

Typical ploys by criminals recruiting new money mules include posting fake job adverts and social media updates online, offering big ticket money rewards for seemingly next to no effort.

Earlier this month, the Police Service of Northern Ireland issued this warning in response to the recent uptick in money mule incidents:

“Individuals registering with job seeking websites or searching for jobs on The Student Room website are being contacted by bogus recruitment companies/businesses asking them to complete application and interview forms which request personal details and banking details, as well as copies of identity documents.”

“In some instances the applicant is invited along for interview, either in person or over the phone, to make the process look as legitimate as possible. This is impacting on students and graduates looking for work both in the UK and overseas.”

Money muling and other job scams which affect students and young people generally are subjects which are very important to e4s, which is why we are a member of SAFERjobs, a non-profit, joint industry and law enforcement organisation designed to support job seekers, agency staff and contractors with suspected fraud.

Money muling is also a topic we’ve covered comprehensively in the past on our website. You can find out much more about the different sorts of scams, how you can spot them and what you can do about trying to help stop them by reading our blogpost about Student Money Laundering Scams.

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