The National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) – a new unit established to tackle economic crime – has warned students to be vigilant about fraudsters attempting to launder money.
Fraudsters may ask you to receive money into your bank account and transfer it to another account, keeping some of the cash for yourself. If you let this happen you are a money mule and involved in money laundering, which is a crime.
You can be approached by fraudsters online or in person. They might post what looks like a genuine job advert, then ask for your bank details.
Once you become a money mule, it can be hard to stop. You could be physically attacked or threatened with violence if you don’t continue to let your account be used by criminals.
Criminals use money mules to launder the profits of their crimes. Mules will often be unaware of where the money comes from – fraud, scams and other serious crime – or where it goes.
It is important to remember that money laundering supports organised crime. These criminal groups may be involved in serious criminal activity such as human trafficking, child sexual abuse and exploitation or blackmail and extortion. It is not a victimless crime.
Not knowing that being a money mule is a crime is not an excuse – you can still be prosecuted by the police.
When you are caught being a money mule, your bank account will be closed making it hard to get student loans, mobile phone contracts or other financial products
If you are prosecuted for being a money mule, you could go to prison for up to 14 years.
Students can become money mules unwittingly. They might think they’re giving out their bank details for a genuine reason, then end up involved in money mule fraud.
If you are concerned that you may have been targeted by a criminal gang to engage in money laundering, or you have identified suspicious activity affecting your bank account, you should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. This number is free, and you can report your concerns in complete confidence. You do not have to give your name.
Students can also access support from the Advice and Guidance team at drop-in sessions in the Alsop Building (University Square), which run between 11am-3pm Monday-Friday. More information about services is available here.
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