Did you ever stop to think that a criminal could be posing as an employer? You may be offered a job which involves asking you to receive money into your bank account and transferring it to another account, letting you keep some for yourself.
The money you’re transferring is stolen, and what you’re doing is called money laundering, which is illegal. Involvement in money laundering can lead to a criminal sentence of up to fourteen years in prison. People recruited by criminals to help transfer stolen money are known as ‘money mules’, or ‘money transfer agents’.
Many of the criminals carrying out this type of fraud are located abroad, so a money mule based in the UK is required to send the money overseas. Criminals try to dupe innocent victims into laundering money on their behalf. They normally do this by pretending to offer legitimate jobs via newspapers or the internet, and often target vulnerable groups such as migrant workers or university students who may be tempted by the lure of a seemingly easy way to make extra cash.
Although the prospect of making some easy money may appear attractive, any money or ‘wages’ that you are given will be recovered by your bank because they are the proceeds of fraud. You will be the easiest link in the chain to track down and will be involved in any resulting police investigation. Your bank account will be closed down and details of the activity shared with other banks, making it hard for you to open up a bank account in the future.
Ignorance is no excuse – allowing your bank account to be used for fraud can result in fourteen years in prison!
Make sure you know and trust the person you are giving your bank account details to.
How to spot a money mule fraud approach and steps to take to protect yourself:
- Be very cautious of unsolicited offers or opportunities to make easy money.
- Verify any company that makes you a job offer and check their contact details (address, landline phone number, email address and website) are correct
and whether they are registered in the UK.
- Be especially wary of job offers from people or companies overseas as
it will be harder for you to find out if they really are legitimate.
- Never give your bank account details to anyone unless you know
and trust them.
- Be wary of adverts that are written in poor English with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
Examples of money mule recruitment e-mails
If you have received e-mails of this type, delete them. Do not respond to them or click on any links they contain. If you have already responded and provided any banking or personal information, contact your bank immediately.
Other signs that could indicate you are being targeted by a money mule scam:
Money mule adverts or offers can take a variety of different forms and they may even copy a genuine company’s website and have a similar web address to make the scam seem authentic.
These adverts will normally state that they are an overseas company seeking ‘UK representatives’ or ‘agents’ to act on their behalf for a period of time, sometimes to avoid high transaction charges or local taxes.
The nature of the work that the company will claim to be involved in can vary,
but the specifics of the job being advertised invariably mean using your bank account
to move money.
If you have already disclosed your bank account details or received money into
your account and you think it could be a money mule scam, you should contact
your bank immediately.