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What if you were told that you could make serious money in a matter of seconds? Picture this: You’re offered hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds for minimal effort. Its a dream come true. You can spend it abroad on that vacation you’ve been dreaming of. You can finally buy the car you had your eye on. Maybe it’s even the last bit of cash needed to slash the deposit on your dream home.
All you have to do is give your bank details to someone so that they can deposit a large amount into your account. After that, all you have to do is transfer it to another account, and you get a percentage in exchange for the transaction. Sounds like easy money, doesn’t it?
Wrong. This may seem like a way to get rich quick, but it will make you a mule of money. Using a money mule is a form of money laundering and can land you in serious trouble. Using you as the middleman, makes it harder to trace criminals, putting you in the firing line for prosecution. This is a serious crime, and it could land you on a criminal record.
Who can be targeted as a money mule?
Fraudsters are especially targeting the youth. People under the age of 25 are six times more likely to be a victim. This is due to the use of social media as a method of recruiting money mules. Young people are also less likely to feel that what they are doing is illegal.
Action Fraud suggests that there were around 18,000 cases of money laundering activity involving 21-30 year olds in 2020, a 5% increase over 2019. This demographic accounts for 42% of all money laundering activity.
Criminals have used the pandemic to persuade people to do their dirty work. After rising unemployment, redundancies and people on vacation, people are more tempted by the promise of quick cash – not just young people. Katy Vorobeck, managing director of UK Finance, said: “Criminals are brutally preying on ‘Generation Covid’ and those struggling to find work in these difficult times, recruiting people as money mules to fake jobs. Using ads.”
Stacks of banknotes are seen in social media posts, with the caption “Message me today to earn £5,000!” It is also being used to attract people. Posts promising money to students to help fund the university, and guaranteeing zero results are also doing the rounds on the internet.
You may also receive text messages and emails suggesting that you are owed a tax refund. Fake debt relief companies also dominate. They promise to wipe out the debt if you just transfer money from one bank account to another. Romance scams are another common way to trick you into becoming a money mule.
But don’t be fooled, it’s not just the youth being targeted. A recent survey by Barclays found that seven out of 10 people were not aware of the consequences of money laundering. This is important to be aware of to make sure you are not too foolish to be involved in a crime, no matter what your age.
What are the consequences of being a money mule?
If you are found guilty of engaging in money laundering by posing as a mule, you could face up to 14 years in prison – even if you are an unsuspecting victim. This could result in the closure of your bank account, and you may have trouble getting credit in the future. If you are unable to access credit, you may have problems buying or renting a home or even getting a mobile phone contract.
This Is Money recently told of three students who were sentenced in 2019 to 38 months in prison after helping them launder nearly £65,000 taken from a woman in her eighties through an online scam Went.
This will also affect your chances of getting student loans if you want to go to university in the future.
How can you protect yourself and others?
In the digital age, it is imperative to know what to do if you think you are being targeted or have become a victim. It is very important to know what to look for in order to avoid falling into a money mule scam.
Here are our top tips: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you are being offered a dream come true amount with the promise that there is ‘no catch’, you may be tempted to become a money mule. Do not get involved in any advertisements or social media posts offering large sums of money. Ignore it and report them. If you think you have already been a victim, report it directly to your bank. You can also report the incident to Action Fraud and are encouraged to contact Crimestoppers. If you see a job ad that offers large sums of money for minimal effort, report them to the job board. If you have received a job offer, research the company and make sure all contact details are genuine. Do not give your bank account details to anyone you do not know or trust. If you receive a text or email claiming to be your bank, HMRC or any other organization suggesting that you owe money, call the organization directly. Do not click on any links within them or call any given phone number.
Useful Links: Top Scams And How To Protect Yourself From Them How To Avoid Latest Sophisticated Scams Top 12 Holiday Frauds And Scams Latest Covid-19 Scams