What’s a money mule?

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What’s a money mule?

Posted on 28 June 2018 by Beaming Support

A money mule is a person employed by a criminal organisation in order to act as a money laundering intermediary, helping organisations to transfer funds between bank accounts and countries.

What is the method used by criminals when recruiting money mules?

Money mules are usually teenagers and young people aged between 18 to 24 years, but people as young as 14 have been known to be targeted and in 2018, Cifas reported a 35% increase in the number of 41-60 year olds involved in money mule activity. Younger people may not be as familiar with the scams used by criminals but are eager to earn their own money.

Criminals often post ads on social media, where they can catch the attention of people in their target age range.  They may actively seek people who need money, using adverts targeted at, for example, young people who have recently searched for payday loans.

After the victim accepts the offer, the criminal gets them to provide their bank account details and transfers a sum of money into their account. They then either get the victim to transfer the money to another bank account in order to make the origin harder to trace, or go to the bank to withdraw that amount so the victim can give it to the criminal in cash.

If the victim decides to stop then the criminal may intimidate them, either with physical violence or with blackmail.

What are the legal, ethical, social and economic implications of becoming a money mule?

The implications of this kind of money laundering are far-reaching and don’t only affect the money mules themselves.

Some of the implications include:

  • If you are caught you could face up to 14 years in prison.
  • You will have your bank account closed.
  • You may be unable to open a bank account for 6 years.
  • It will be difficult to get a student loan, credit card or mortgage in the future.
  • It will be difficult to find employment as some jobs require you to have a bank account in order to reach interview, and that’s not even taking into account the effect a criminal record will have on your future employability.
  • You will be helping fund organised crime, which may include human trafficking, drug dealing and cyber crime.

Risky behaviour

Engaging in any of the behaviours listed below may put you in danger of becoming a money mule.

  • Responding to adverts that promise large amounts of money for very little work. If it seems too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true.
  • Giving out your financial and personal details to a potential employer, especially if they are based overseas. No employer should need your bank details until after you have signed a contract and started your employment.
  • Allowing an employer or stranger to use your bank account to transfer money.

How to avoid becoming a money mule

  • Don’t accept job offers that require you to allow your employer to use your bank account to transfer money. No legitimate job offer would require you to do this.
  • Be wary of overseas job offers as these kinds of employers can be harder to gather information on.
  • Don’t give out your personal and financial information to strangers and people you don’t trust.

What to do if you are approached to be a money mule

  • If someone approaches you on social media, block them and report it to Action Fraud by phoning 0300 123 2040.
  • If a person is also threatening, then also inform the police.
  • Block any ads which tell you you can make money quickly and report them to action fraud if you believe it is fraud.

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