Money laundering is often thought of as a ‘Mob’ type activity. Most people think that they would be involved in it, knowingly or not. Most people would be surprised to learn that in just nine months last year there were 8,652 cases of young people who became ‘money mules’ for money launderers in the UK. The most vulnerable age is between 18 and 24. A ‘money mule’ is someone who moves large sums of cash for a criminal entity in order to ‘clean’ the money by funnelling it through legal channels. Some knew that what they were doing was illegal, but many weren’t aware. A study showed that one third of people would apply for jobs that they think are legitimate but are really ‘money mule’ jobs.
Fake ads are showing up more and more these days and they can be really hard to spot as fake. One way to avoid falling into this trap is to think to yourself – if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Vulnerable people are those who have little or no income. They are usually young but don’t have to be. Anyone wanting easy cash can fall for these scams and find themselves involved in illegal activities that could leave them facing life-changing consequences such as having your bank account closed to facing a jail term of up to 14 years. Keep in mind that money laundering often supports criminal activities such as people trafficking, drugs, and even terrorism.
Some ways to avoid these fake ads and falling victim to them are: not clicking on any link that is asking you to verify or update your bank account details; not answering a call or text from an unfamiliar number regarding your bank account; remember your bank would never ask you for your
personal information over the phone and would never ask you to transfer money from your account, for any reason; and always respond to emails or phone messages by visiting your bank’s website and calling or emailing a person from the actually bank.
Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. If you’re unsure about a phone message or email, ask a friend or your bank. Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, said: "This is a serious issue that not only has consequences for the money mule, but for society as a whole. We want to educate young people about how serious this fraud is in the hope that they will think twice before getting involved." So be smart and stay safe.