A money mule is a person who receives money from a third party into their bank account and then transfers it to another account in
exchange for a commission. This doesn’t seem too bad right?
Well, even though money mules are not directly involved in the illegal activities which provide the money, they’re basically acting as an accomplice to criminal enterprises around the globe. This money is then used to fund more crime like drug dealing, exploitation, human trafficking, terrorism, and other forms of fraud and scams.
This is why it’s so important to take precautions so you don’t accidentally become involved in this type of crime. In this blog, we'll explain everything you need to know about money mules.
How Do People Get Involved in this Financial Crime?
A lot of the time, people are unwittingly tricked into becoming a money mule. Fraudsters tend to target vulnerable people by coming across as trustworthy and friendly, offering the chance to make money with zero risks. There are groups on Instagram with thousands of followers, with everyone hoping to find a way to make money without too much effort.
According to the Metropolitan Police, people under the age of 25 are 6x more likely to be tricked into being a money mule, as the fraudsters tend to use social media to their victims. The sheer volume of social media accounts aimed at recruiting money mules is huge and difficult to track down.
What are the Consequences of Becoming a Money Mule?
The police and banking providers across the UK have been working together for a number of years to try and stamp out this crime, which is becoming easier to track with advancements being made in cybercrime prevention. Your banking provider will also be able to put a hold on your account if they notice anything unusual too.
Individuals, regardless of if they’re aware that they’re taking part in something illegal, can risk having their account closed, credit scores ruined, their financial history ruined, and their bank account closed permanently. Plus, in some cases, people will be looking at a 14-year prison sentence.
Are There Any Warning Signs to Look Out For?
The scam is often presented in a variety of different ways, but every time it will involve your bank account details which is the main aim of the game for these types of criminals.
The truth is that there’s no magic solution to earning hundreds of pounds instantly. However, the criminals running these scams are very skilled in appearing to be believable - and it’s enough to fool thousands of people every year.
How to Protect Yourself from Becoming a Money Mule?
There are a number of things to be aware of to protect yourself from ever getting caught up in this type of situation:
#1 Be Wary of Strangers Contacting You
If someone reaches out to you, whether it’s online or in-person – even if the conversation seems pleasant enough, remember to keep your wits about you and get to know the person before revealing any important or personal details about yourself.
#2 Never Give Away Your Bank Details
Your bank account details should only be shared in very specific circumstances with someone you completely trust. If you’re contacted by a person asking you for this information, it’s important you report it right away whether it’s to the social media provider or to Action Fraud.
#3 Offers of Easy Money are Often too Good to be True
The title of this tip says it all – but try to stay away from any job opportunities, social media posts, emails, and strangers offering you a way to make money fast. If you’re ever offered this, decline it and report it to the police.
However, if you suspect that you may be caught in a money mule scheme the best thing to do is stop transferring money immediately, notify your banking provider, and report it to the police. This type of information is vital in protecting others from the same situation and putting an end to organised crime.