UK Finance and Cifas launch lessons to prevent young adults from becoming money mules

Figures released today reveal that those aged under 21 now account for one in five (23%) of cases with intelligence indicative of money mule behaviour on the Cifas National Fraud Database.
Don’t Be Fooled, a partnership between UK Finance and Cifas, has developed free PSHE resources for schools, to educate pupils about the dangers and consequences of becoming a money mule
Parents are urged to warn their children of the risks of becoming money mules by following the advice of the Don’t be Fooled campaign

Data released today by Cifas and UK Finance reveals that in the first six months of 2023 there were 17,286 cases with intelligence indicating money mule activity filed to the Cifas National Fraud Database. Of these, 3,881 involved young people aged 21 and under which now make up one in five (23%) of all cases filed to the Database that bear the hallmarks of muling.


Younger adults, including all aged up to 30, now account for 64% of cases indicating money mule activity, and between January – June there were 11,015 cases filed that were indicative of money muling filed to the Cifas National Fraud Database.


To help tackle the issue and protect more young people before they are targeted, Don’t Be Fooled, a partnership between UK Finance and Cifas, is raising awareness of the dangers and consequences of becoming a money mule. Starting early and educating young people so they have the knowledge and skills to protect themselves, Don’t Be Fooled has developed free PSHE resources for schools about the dangers and consequences of becoming a money mule.


A money mule is someone who receives illicit money into their bank account and transfers it into another account, often in return for money or an expensive gift.


The new schools programme is aimed at primary (aged 10 – 11) and secondary (aged 11 – 14) pupils. Since May 2023, as part of a pilot education programme, schools across the country have signed up for over 16,000 resources to help students and parents alike learn how they can stay safe online and in person, protect their financial privacy and protect friends and family from money muling. The programme includes lesson plans and assembly presentations, alongside posters, flyers and other material for schools to use.


Criminals need money mules to launder the profits of their crimes and frequently target young people, who are often unaware of the consequences of them agreeing to do so. Intelligence suggests that criminals are increasingly using social media to target young people, but youngsters are also approached in-person outside schools, colleges or sports clubs.


Allowing a bank account to be used in this way is a crime and can result in a criminal record and the account being closed. It can also lead to the individual finding it difficult obtaining mobile phone contracts or accessing financial products and credit, including student loans.


Those who become money mules are often unaware that the cash they are laundering is used by criminals to facilitate serious crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling.


Ben Donaldson, Managing Director, Economic Crime, UK Finance: “The criminals who commit fraud harm people by stealing their money and, often, robbing them of their confidence. The criminals who do this need people to launder the money they steal, and they often target young people to do so. Exploiting young people in this way is dreadful: the criminals are persuading them to break the law, and that can harm their future.

“Our Don’t Be Fooled campaign helps schools to teach children about the dangers posed by this type of criminal activity, and how to keep their bank accounts safe in the future. Parents and guardians have an important role to play, too. Don’t Be Fooled has advice on how to help their kids stay safe, including never giving your bank details to anyone unless you really know and trust them.”


Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas said: “Being asked to transfer funds from your bank account might sound harmless, but this is money laundering and therefore illegal. This can have serious consequences for those involved, especially youngsters who could find their bank account closed and have difficulty accessing credit or loans. It could even impact their future education and job opportunities.


“Young people need to think carefully before allowing their accounts to be used to transfer money, and ask themselves whether it is really worth jeopardising their future opportunities and career just to earn some easy cash?”


Mrs Nerys Todd, High Level Teaching Assistant, at Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili in Caerphilly said: “Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili yn dysgu am Fulod Arian. Codi ymwybyddiaeth a rhannu gwybodaeth.”


English version of quote Mrs Nerys Todd’s quote: “Here at Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili, we believe it’s essential to encourage our young people to learn about thge dangers of becoming a Money Mule. By raising awareness about the risks, we empower our students to protect not only themselves but also their friends and families from financial exploitation. Our goal is to equip them with knowledge and resilience needed to make informed decisions and contribute to a safer society.”


Parents and carers can play an important role by educating young people about the dangers of money mules. Tell-tale signs that someone might be involved in money muling could be them suddenly having extra cash, buying expensive new clothes or top-of-the-range mobile phones and gadgets with very little explanation as to how they got the money. They may also become more secretive, withdrawn or appear stressed.


To spot the signs that a young person might be involved in money muling and for tips on how to stay safe; parents and guardians are urged to follow the advice of the Don’t Be Fooled campaign:


Make sure your child doesn’t give their bank account details to anyone unless they know and trust them.
Tell them to be cautious of unsolicited offers of easy money, because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Look out for your child suddenly having extra cash, buying expensive new clothes or electronics with very little explanation as to how they got the money.
A young person involved in money muling may become more secretive, withdrawn or appear stressed.

Parents and guardians are advised not to attempt to contact any individual they suspect of organising money muling and should instead contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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