Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting agency, has issued advice to the public after a convicted fraudster revealed some of the ways criminal gangs are recruiting unsuspecting members of the public as ‘money mules’ to launder the proceeds of crime.
Money mules continue to be used as a key facilitator of fraud and are used as a way to evade detection from the police.
The fraudster said: “Adverts are placed in foreign newspapers to recruit people to come to the UK and open fraudulent bank accounts.
“They are described as “no experience necessary, all expenses paid working holiday in London.”
Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account and they are then asked to withdraw it and wire the money to a different account, keeping some of the money for themselves.
Someone who gets themselves involved in this kind of activity could spend up to 14 years in jail if caught.
A Home Office study found that serious organised crime cost the UK £24 billion in 2013. It is now thought that the figure may now be even higher. Money mule schemes are suspected to play a major part in this kind of criminal activity.
Chris Greany, national coordinator for economic crime said: “We will continue to build on our relationship with the NCA and European law enforcement to ensure that money mules are prevented from fostering a cycle of illegal activity.
“We urge people to follow our advice and protect themselves from crooks who are looking to involve people in their web of criminality. Getting involved in such activity could result in years spent behind bars.”
Behaviours that put you at risk of becoming a money mule
Responding to job adverts, or social media posts that promise large amounts of money for very little work.
Failing to research a potential employer, particularly one based overseas, before handing over your personal or financial details to them.
Allowing an employer, or someone you don’t know and trust, to use your bank account to transfer money.
How to protect yourself
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 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 financial details to someone you don’t know and trust.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.