PCC Mark Shelford is encouraging parents and carers to spot the signs of their young adult falling for ‘get rich quick’ traps and becoming a money mule.
Money muling, also known as squaring, is when a person transfers stolen money on behalf of others usually through their bank account. Criminals contact people and offer them cash to receive money into their bank account and transfer it to another account.
The money that money mules transfer is usually stolen, profits of crime and is often used to fund crimes like drug dealing, sexual exploitation, fraud and human trafficking.
Young people are vulnerable to being targeted as money mules due to the pressures on social media and manipulation techniques highlighting ‘get rich quick’ traps.
Around 6 in 10 mules are under the age of 30 and many criminals target university or sixth form students, when young people most need their own money.
Such recruitment often occurs on social media with criminals befriending victims before offering a ‘quick cash’ opportunity. Young people are often unaware of the consequences of being recruited as a money mule including bank accounts being closed, problems applying for credit and even a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
While the majority of money mules are young, it is important to remember that anyone can become a victim.
How to spot the signs
- Your young person might be in possession of luxury or designer goods that they cannot account for
- There might be evidence of them opening new bank accounts or using crypto exchanges with money they cannot explain the origin of
- When challenged, the young person might say they are letting someone else use their account to move money
“Criminals will target vulnerable people who are in need of money and proposition them with a get ‘quick rich’ opportunity. In actual fact, they are asking you to commit a crime and, once someone becomes a money mule, it can be hard to stop.
“If a young person in your life has been approached, urge them to break off all contact and for them to not receive or move any money. The more people we make aware of such awful schemes the more people we can stop falling victim and becoming complicit in organised crime.
“As parents and carers, we need to help young people build their financial resilience and protect them against fraudsters operating online. We also need to talk to them about staying safe online, be wary of strangers contacting them on social media and not sharing their bank account details to anyone unless they know and trust them.
“If you think your child or young adult is being used as a money mule, please contact the police or Crimestoppers; by reporting such crime we can help social media companies protect their own users.”PCC Mark Shelford
If you are concerned your child is being criminal exploited, contact 999 in an emergency or call the police on 101. If you do not want to give your details to the police, contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously online or by calling 0800 555 111.
For more information, please visit the NCA website.