In recent news by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) organised criminals are now using such as social media to recruit some public individuals to act as unsuspecting money launderers of their money they got from their dirty works like drug smuggling, people trafficking and fraud.

These money mules are often recruited by criminals to have their money transferred into their bank account, then withdraw the money and wire it back overseas with some commission and incentives. The mules are told that they are taking a legitimate job using such titles as ‘money transfer agent’.  They are often unaware that acting as a money mule is illegal and allows these organised criminals and groups to move their funds around world so easily. The consequences if caught doing this illegal activity can face a prison sentence and the prospect of never again being able to secure a mortgage or open a bank account anywhere in the world.

Traditionally, money mules were recruited through many different means of getting the message to the public such job adverts, emails,  messaging and online postings or even sometimes through criminals directly approaching their victim in person. Some recently examples have included Facebook posts on closed groups, or messages sent through instant messaging apps such as BBM, which typically encourage people to contact the sender if they hold a particular bank account.

The FFAUK’s intelligence also suggests that students are most susceptible to the crime, as well as some newcomers to the UK who are often directly targeted soon after arriving in the country.

Advice on how to spot a money laundering approach and steps to protect yourself:

  • Be very cautious of unsolicited emails or approaches over social media promising 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.

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.
  • The advert may be written in poor English with grammatical and spelling mistakes.
  • 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.

Read more on the Financial Fraud Action UK website.
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