For young people
If you or someone you know has been approached, break off all contact, don’t receive or move any money, and ask for advice from someone you trust. Criminals operate in silence – by talking about it, you are protecting others.
You can report money muling to local Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. If you prefer not to give your details to the police, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously online or by calling 0800 555 111. If you see it online, report it to the social media companies to help them take it down and protect their own users.
While someone may offer an easy way to make money, you could find yourself at risk from dangerous and sophisticated criminals, as well as becoming complicit in organised crime. It is better to focus on building up your financial understanding and use that to secure your future and that of your family.
There are lots of ways to do this, but most banks offer free resources online to help – such as Natwest’s Money Sense.
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Parents & Carers
Most mules enabling these crimes are young. Around 6 in 10 mules are under the age of 30. Many criminals target their recruitment of mules at university or sixth form students, when young people most need their own money.
It is important for parents and carers to help young people understand the dangers and consequences of financial crime activity. Young people need this to help build their financial resilience, and help protect them against fraudsters and scammers operating online. For teenagers, the best age to start these conversations is 11-16.
If you are concerned your child is being criminally exploited, contact 999 in an emergency or call the police on 101.
Most mules are recruited between the ages of 17 and 24. The young person might have come into possessions such as luxury goods that they cannot account for. There might be evidence of them opening new bank accounts or using crypto exchanges with money they can’t adequately explain the origin of.
When challenged, they might just say they are just letting someone else use their account to move money. But if they are taking a cut themselves, in reality, they are helping criminals against the vulnerable, while potentially being exploited themselves.
Young people are vulnerable to being targeted as money mules due to the pressures on social media and manipulation techniques highlighting ‘get rich quick’ traps. However, young people are often unaware of the consequences of being recruited as a money mule and discussions in classroom settings will assist to deter young people from this crime.
For university students, ‘We Fight Fraud’ is a fraud prevention firm with the innovative approach of using the lived experience of former offenders to inform its work. They can offer “Crooks on Campus” to universities to help warn their students about mule recruiters that are known to target student populations, particularly among international students.
If you are concerned, talk to your students about the importance of honesty, legality and consequences of becoming involved. Explain the financial implications, the impact of having a poor credit rating and losing access to a bank account if you want to obtain student loans in the future.
Cifas is a non-for profit organisation working to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime. They have developed PSHE Association accredited anti-fraud lesson plans for Key Stages 3 and 4 to explore money mules, decision making and reporting.
There are also a range of teaching resources produced by banks for all age groups, for example this Barclays Life Skills resource for age 16-19yrs,which covers money mules as well as other fraud risks: Financial fraud and scams lesson plan | Barclays LifeSkills