Do you ever get a feeling that something is too good to be true? What if someone said you could get paid to accept some money into your bank account and then send it somewhere? Easy money, right?
Well, technically yes it is but what if that money had been obtained through prostitution, exploitation or drugs? What if it meant you could end up in prison? This is the reality posed by money muling and my column today examines why those ‘get rich quick’ schemes might not be all they are cracked up to be.
So what is a money mule? Well in simple terms it’s someone that has been recruited to transfer money between different bank accounts. The money itself has been obtained illegally (for example through phishing scams, through bogus online sales, or other types of criminal activity). By moving the money via the recruit the criminal is laundering their dirty money and making it harder to trace back to them.
The success of money mule scams preys on people wanting to get rich quick. There are a number of ways this might happen. For example you may see a ‘get money quick’ scheme advertised online or a job advert may offer a large amount of money for seemingly very little actual work (but invariably using your bank account to accept and transfer money).
Once recruited, the criminal will send some money and instructions of what to do next. It could be transferring it to another account or it might be to withdraw the money as cash and transfer it via a money transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram. The recruit will generally get paid a proportion of the funds they transfer.
There are some real life-changing risks associated with money muling. Firstly, money laundering is a criminal offence and you could face up to 14 years in jail. Any money you make from a money mule scam can be taken away from you and it can have a significant impact on your ability to get credit or a bank account in future. You’ll also have given your personal information to criminals.
If you’re concerned you may be a victim of one of these scams you should contact us on 101 and also contact your bank.
Luckily there are some really easy things you can do to prevent yourself getting involved in such a scheme in the first place.
- Never give your bank details to someone you don’t trust
- Be cautious when it comes to emails, adverts or social media posts offering easy ways to earn money – if you don’t trust it, delete it!
- Verify any company that makes you a job offer, check they are registered in the UK and check their contact details are correct. Remember that fake websites can easily be set up and emails may use similar details and imagery to a genuine company so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t think they are legitimate
- No legitimate company will ask you to transfer their money using your bank account
- Don’t trust adverts that are written in poor English and contain lots of grammatical errors or spelling mistakes
Remember; if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.