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Parents in Bedfordshire urged to help stop rise in child money mules

16 Sep 2019

Parents and guardians in our county are being urged to warn their children about the dangers of becoming a money mule, with figures revealing the number of 14-18-year olds misusing their bank accounts has risen by 73% in two years.

As part of the Don’t Be Fooled awareness campaign, Bedfordshire Police will be contacting schools in their area to warn parents and guardians of the risks of their children becoming a money mule.

A money mule is someone who transfers stolen money through their own bank account on behalf of someone else and is paid for doing so. Criminals use money mules to launder the profits of their crimes. 

In 2018, there were 5,819 cases of young people aged 14-18 using their bank accounts for money muling in the UK, figures from Cifas show. This is a rise of 20% on 2017 (4,849 cases) and a 73% increase since 2016 (3,360 cases).

Young people are often unaware that acting as a money mule is illegal. They are approached to take part online or in person, including through social media, at school, college or sports clubs. 

Michael Williams, Bedfordshire Police Cyber Security advisor, said: “Our force is working closely with schools in our county to educate our youth about misusing their bank accounts.

“Young people might be tempted by promises of easy money but they don’t realise that this way they are committing a crime which can have a serious impact on their future.

“When opening an account for your children please educate them about money muling and ask them to think twice before accepting offers of easy money. And if they are in doubt to ask an adult for help.” 

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “It may seem like an easy way to make some cash, but as well as being illegal, being a money mule means you will also be helping to fund serious crimes such as drug dealing and people trafficking. When you are caught your bank account will be closed and you will find it difficult to open an account elsewhere or get a mobile phone contract or credit in the future. Remember, never give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them.”

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, said: “The increasing use of social media means that young people have never been more vulnerable to becoming victims of fraud. Many youngsters are unaware of the devastating consequences that fraud can have on their future opportunities, and so teachers, parents and carers can play an important role here by ensuring young people have the necessary knowledge and skills to prevent them from unwittingly falling victim to fraud, or even become perpetrators themselves.”

To spot the tell-tale signs that someone might be involved in money muling and for tips on how to stay safe, parents and guardians are urged to follow the advice of the Don’t Be Fooled campaign:

  • Make sure your child doesn't give their bank account details to anyone unless they know and trust them.
  • Tell them to be cautious of unsolicited offers of easy money, because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Look out for your child suddenly having extra cash, buying expensive new clothes or electronics with very little explanation as to how they got the money.
  • A young person involved in money muling may become more secretive, withdrawn or appear stressed.

Parents and guardians are advised not to attempt to contact any individual they suspect of organising money muling and should instead contact the police on 101 or through their online reporting centre.

They can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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