"Quick, easy cash" always comes with a price…
A money mule is someone who is recruited by criminals to pass illegally obtained cash through their bank account. The money will be transferred into the mule's account, and they will be instructed to send it to other accounts or withdraw it as cash to deliver in person. Often, the criminals will allow the money mule to keep a small percentage of the money. This seems like quick, easy way to make money and is what makes this offer seem so attractive. It can be tempting to become a money mule for people who might be in need of some quick cash, such as students or people who have fallen on hard times, so these are the type of people who are often targeted.
So how does it work? As with a lot of fraudulent activity these days, money mule recruitment usually starts on social media. You may have seen people online advertising 'easy cash schemes' or 'money transfer jobs' and using terms like 'squares', 'flips' and 'AC'. This is an easy way for criminals to target young people and students. When someone responds to an advert like this, they have been recruited as a money mule, and are asked to provide their financial details for illegal use.
Be aware that criminals could also approach you in person. If someone approached you and offered a quick and easy way to make cash, would you be tempted? Do not engage with anyone making an offer like this, do not hand over your bank card and do not provide any personal details.
It may not seem like passing some cash from one account to another is a big deal, but money mules play a key role in laundering illegal money ('cleaning' dirty money by hiding where it really came from). This can help to finance a variety of further offences.
The video explains the reality of the situation. By helping a criminal hide the origins of their money you are contributing directly to the offences that those criminals go on to commit.
Put simply, acting as a money mule is illegal, and can have a real impact on your future:
Follow the link to read the story of a teenage money mule, how he was recruited and how he has been affected by his actions: 'I was a 15-year-old money mule after criminals hired me at the school gate' - Mirror Online
You can avoid becoming involved in money laundering and acting as a mule by following general fraud advice:
Experiencing or being involved is often frightening and it can be difficult to know what to do next. If you have been approached by a criminal mule recruiter or have been involved in transferring cash for someone else, stop immediately, cut off all contact and seek advice.
Make a report to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime:
You can access many of the services provided by Greater Manchester Police online at Home | Greater Manchester Police (gmp.police.uk).
For emergencies only call 999, or 101 if it's less urgent.
For further information on money mules and how to avoid getting involved, visit Tips – Money Mules.
Page updated 01/06/2021 - Christopher Geneux