Startling increase reported in ‘money muling’

Members of the public are being recruited to money-launder thousands of pounds to criminal gangs abroad, funding a global trade in drugs, people trafficking and terrorism.

To find out how to spot whether you are being approached to be a money mule – and for advice about what to do – click here

New figures released today by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) highlight the spread of the scam, perpetrated via fake email or postal offers of jobs such as ‘Money Transfer Agent’ or ‘Payment Processing Agent’. The recipient of the offer is invited to receive money into their bank account and transfer it to another account, retaining a commission for themselves as payment. The money has actually been stolen – often the result of bank account fraud – and is then laundered to overseas accounts.

The consequences of money muling, as the practice is called, include freezing of bank accounts, difficulty in opening new accounts in the future (affecting the ability to gain a mortgage, insurance etc) and even up to ten years' imprisonment.

Research published today indicates that such offers are received by around 15% of UK adults – with fraudsters specifically targeting people on low incomes such as students, those on benefits and new entrants to the country. Of those who have received such an offer, 21% admitted to having considered accepting the work, and 6% went on to volunteer. This could give rise to 380,000 people becoming unsuspecting money-launderers and in doing so, leaving themselves vulnerable to the consequences.

Students and new entrants are most likely to consider and accept such an offer, with 41% of new entrants to the UK having considered the work and 20% going on to accept it. Of the students who were approached, 47% considered the work and 19% accepted it.

In terms of the potential penalties, only 15% of those questioned realised that money muling carries a ten-year maximum prison sentence.

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