Students are being recruited, sometimes unwittingly, as “mules” by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money between different bank accounts.
What is a money mule?
A money mule is someone who is recruited by those needing to launder money obtained illegally. Criminals advertise fake jobs in newspapers and on the internet in a number of ways, usually offering opportunities to make money quickly, in order to lure potential money mule recruits. These include:
Social media posts
Copying genuine company’s websites to create impression of legitimacy
Sending mass emails offering employment
Targeting individuals that have posted their CVs on employment websites
Students are particularly susceptible to adverts of this nature. For someone in full-time education, the opportunity for making money quickly can understandably be an attractive one. The mule will accept money into their bank account, before following further instructions on what to do with the funds. Instructions could include transferring the money into a separate specified account or withdrawing the cash and forwarding it on via money transfer service companies like Western Union or MoneyGram. The mule is generally paid a small percentage of the funds as they pass through their account.
Money Laundering is a criminal offence which can lead to prosecution and a custodial sentence. Furthermore, it can lead to the mule being unable to obtain credit in the UK and prevented from holding a bank account.
Be aware that the offence of money laundering carries a maximum prison sentence, in the UK, of 14 years.
Never give the details of your bank account to anyone that you do not trust.
No legitimate company will ever ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Don’t accept any job offers that ask you to do this.
Be wary of unsolicited emails or social media posts promising ways of earning easy money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t be afraid to question the legitimacy of any businesses that make you a job offer, especially if the recruitment procedure strays from the conventional.