The number of young people caught acting as “drug mules” has doubled over the past four years, according to the UK fraud prevention service, Cifas.
A mule allows their bank account to be used by a third party to transfer money in and out of him, and in return keep a portion of the money for themselves.
Laundered money is likely to have come from drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and terrorism, experts say.
If you’re surprised, the mules have their bank accounts closed and could go to jail.
Between January and September of this year, there were 8,652 cases involving young people aged 18 to 24 years, Cifas said.
He added that young people, particularly students, are often targeted because they are vulnerable and short of money.
The ads may appear online through a social network to the post office, offering cash rewards for little work.
The job advertised could be a “financial manager” or “representative of the united KINGDOM”, and a UK bank account is a requirement.
Criminals are using children as mules’
Foreign students targeted by bank account fraudsters
How to avoid becoming a mule for the money
The increase in the number of cases has prompted a new campaign, Don’t be Fooled.
It features a film called Sponsor-a-Child-Trafficker, warning-be mules of the key role they could play “in the life of a criminal and the innocent, they enslave”.
Money laundering is illegal and can lead to 14 years imprisonment.
Those who are caught could also try to obtain student loans, mobile phone contracts or other financial products if their bank account is closed because of money laundering.”Too good to be true”
Katy Worobec, from UK Finance, said that money muling is the money laundering.
“We ask people not to give their bank details to anyone unless they know and trust them,” she said.
“If an offer of easy money seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, said that he hoped to educate young people about the seriousness of this type of fraud, will think twice before engaging.
If you think that you have acted as a money mule, visit the Cifas web site on the procedure to follow and to report all incidents of fraud to Action Fraud.