An article published in The Guardian on 4th October highlights how criminals are using students and other young people as "money mules" to unwittingly move funds that represent the proceeds of criminal activity through their bank accounts.
With university terms starting, students are likely to be targeted with seductive job ads on social media to make money quickly. Organised criminal gangs are increasingly targeting cash-strapped young people with a clean record to help them move stolen money undetected by banks and authorities. It is reported that the number of people under 30 suspected of being money mules has soared by nearly 80%.
In my recent article, Money mules, smurfs and organised crime, I explained how young people are being targeted as they are likely to have a "clean" banking history and may not consider the consequences of their accounts being used and that the funds are the proceeds of crime or being used to fund criminal activity.
Customers found to have used their accounts knowingly or otherwise for money laundering are logged on the National Fraud Database. Those who have been involved as money mules will not only find their accounts frozen but may be prevented from applying for banking and credit facilities in the future, as well as mobile phone contracts due to a damaged credit score.
If a scheme to make easy money and commission simply by allowing funds to be transferred between accounts seems too good to be true, it is! There could be repercussions for many years.
“It’s really important that account holders, and especially students, are aware of the consequences of being caught moving fraudulent funds ... Even unsuspecting mules risk being left with no bank account and a damaged credit score.”