criminals target teenage ‘mules’ to use their accounts to launder and divert illegal
money have increased dramatically, according to Cifas, the UK fraud
prevention body. 14 – 18 yr olds are
especially vulnerable to this type of digital risk and banks and fraud
prevention organisations are keen to alert parents and young people of the
Executive of Cifas, Mike Haley said ‘The increasing use of social media means that
young people have never been more vulnerable to becoming victims of fraud’.
Cifas discovered 8,500 money mule accounts for Under 21’s (with some as young as 14) in 2017.
How do Money Mules Work?
Criminals target children and young people via social media (Whatsapp, Snapchat, Facebook & Instagram), messaging apps, e-mail, the Internet and by direct contact using coercion techniques – normally by offering victims a payment, fee or cut, to allow their bank accounts to be used to move criminal funds through their accounts – making the money less suspicious to banks.
Criminal networks use sophisticated automated techniques – to them it’s a numbers game. Sports Clubs, Schools and Colleges are key recruiting grounds according to the BBC, as well as anywhere young people congregate online. When thousands of youngsters are contacted, someone will bite. Here’s what happened to Holly
the most targeted are ‘newcomers to the country, students, unemployed, those in
financial crisis’ and aged mostly between 18-34.
Young people who
get caught up in this activity can be threatened with violence if they try to
quit, by the criminals who recruited them.
Davenport, Head of Fraud for the Banking and
Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) explained that ‘Away from actually meeting
people face to face, there are quite blatant ads on Snapchat especially, as
well as private groups on social media pages. There are ones which say ‘earn up
to €50 at home’, these kind of ones.’
says ‘many people don’t even realise they have committed a crime and it is
especially younger people who are being targeted’.
may be tempted by the ‘easy money’, think ‘what harm can it do’ and be unaware
of the serious consequences to their future.
stress the outcome can be severe – that young people can ‘face prison, fines,
community service, never get a mortgage or even open a bank account’.
How to Prevent Young People from getting involved
REMEMBER When it comes to Social
Media and the Internet ‘If it’s too good to be true then it often is!’.
Be cautious when it comes to
unsolicited emails or messages via messaging apps.
Pay attention to strange or
suspicious friend or connect requests and emails.
Double check and verity any company
or business who offers you a task or job in return for money.
Remember bank account details,
pin number etc are personal information. Keep them safe and secure.
Ensure they know the consequences
This is happening frequently. Remain
vigilant and look out for the warning signs.
What to do if you
become involved in a suspected email or money mule posting or are contacted
Stop transferring money immediately. Notify the
service, the bank and inform the Police.
Stay Safe Online
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