Parents and guardians across Northern Ireland 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 per cent in two years.
As part of the ScamwiseNI Partnership we have issued letters to all post primary Schools, Further Education Colleges and Universities to warn parents and guardians of the risks of their children becoming a money mule.
Chair of the ScamwiseNI Partnership, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “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. Acting as a money mule is a crime and allowing your account to be used for fraud could lead to you serving a custodial sentence.
“Young people are often unaware that acting as a money mule is illegal. They are often recruited through social media or approached to take part in person at school or college.
“It may seem like an easy way to make money, but as well as being illegal, being a money mule means you may also be helping to fund serious crimes such as drug dealing and people trafficking. If your bank account is used for money laundering, it can lead to you losing your account and you could find it extremely difficult to get access to a new one. This can cause difficulties in the future ranging from problems receiving genuine payments.”
Figures from Cifas show that in 2018 in the UK there were 5,819 cases of young people aged 14-18 using their bank accounts for money muling. This is a rise of 20 per cent on 2017 (4,849 cases) and a 73 per cent increase since 2016 (3,360 cases).
The increasing use of social media means that young people have never been more vulnerable to becoming victims of fraud/scam.
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 below
You can learn more and get advice by visiting www.moneymules.co.uk.
- 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- A young person involved in money muling may become more secretive, withdrawn or appear stressed.
Chief Superintendent Walls Concluded: “I would appeal to parents and guardians and ask them not to contact any individual they suspect of organising money muling instead they should contact Police on 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
For further advice on how to stay scam aware visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni