Is your child a money mule?

Your teenage son or daughter may be at risk of a 14-year prison sentence.

The number of cases of 14-18-year olds allowing their bank accounts to be used to transfer stolen/criminal money through their account on behalf of someone else has more than doubled to more than 100 cases per week, and those are the one’s who are found out! If you knowingly allow your account to be used for fraud than you could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Criminals/fraudsters use money mules to launder their ill-gotten gains. It’s one thing stealing the money, it is quite another thing being able to spend it, the bit in between is when the money is laundered, where the money becomes difficult to trace and “clean” to use.

Fraudsters target young people who have no history of criminal activity, but once the money is laundered it is frequently used to fund drugs, child trafficking or in some cases terrorism. Young people as young as 14 are approached on social media such as Instagram and Snapchat or respond to adverts offering easy work from home opportunities. Victims are promised easy money for doing nothing. Normally, the young people have no money in their account and so feel that they have no risk, unfortunately they could not be more wrong.

If prosecuted, money mules can be sent to prison for up to 14 years. Even if not prosecuted if a bank is suspicious, they will freeze the account and, in many cases, will blacklist the victim from having a bank account. Even trying to imagine how you operate in the world of today without a bank account is almost impossible. And finally, we should not forget that these criminals are frequently very unpleasant people and are happy to use violence to make sure that you keep doing as they ask. All told, the downside to being a money mule are very severe.

So, what do we all need to do to keep our loved ones safe?

The first thing is the same as with all fraud and scams, and that is to talk about the problem, make sure that friends and family know what money mules are and how bad it is when they are caught. Secondly, help others to stay safe, if you see a suspicious advert, post etc. report to it to the social media provider to make sure others are protected.