Money mules

What is it?

What is a money mule?

'Money mule’ is a term used to describe someone who is recruited by fraudsters needing to launder funds that they have obtained illegally. As most of the fraudsters behind money mule scams are located overseas and it is not currently possible to make cross-border transfers out of UK online bank accounts overseas, a ‘money mule’ or ‘money transfer agent’ is often used to launder the funds obtained as a result of phishing and Trojan scams. After being recruited by the fraudsters, money mules receive funds into their accounts and then withdraw the money and send it overseas using a wire transfer service, minus a certain commission payment.

Money mule adverts or offers can take a variety of different forms and they may even copy a genuine company’s web site and register a similar web address to add authenticity to the scam. These adverts will normally state that they are an overseas company seeking ‘UK representatives’ or ‘agents’ to act on their behalf for as period of time, sometimes to avoid high charges for making payments, or local taxes. The advert may be written in poor English with grammatical and spelling mistakes and they may urge you not to inform the bank or the police about the reason for making the payments. The adverts may seek people with accounts at certain banks or Internet payment systems.

If you disclosed your bank details or received funds into your account for what you think could be a money mule scam you should contact your bank immediately. Even if you have nothing to do with the actual extraction of funds from another person’s account, by allowing your account to be used to receive and transfer funds, you are acting illegally.

To find out more about 'money mules' visit the Crimestoppers website*.

Protect yourself

How can I avoid becoming involved in a money mule scam?

  • Be cautious about any unsolicited offers or opportunities offering you the chance to make some money. 
  • Be especially wary of offers from people or companies located overseas as it is harder for you to know they are who they say they are. 
  • Take steps to verify any company which makes you a job offer, and check their contact details (address, phone number, email address and web site) are correct, and whether they are registered in the UK.
  • Never give your bank details to anyone unless you know them.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited emails or approaches.
  • Remember the old saying – If something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Report it

What should I do if I receive a money mule email or advert?

You should never respond to these advances, especially if you are asked to provide your bank account details to someone you’ve never met. If a specific bank is mentioned in the advert, you should contact their helpdesk on the published number. You may also report the scam by emailing reports@banksafeonline.org.uk

If you see an opportunity to make some easy money and the offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is!

More information

More information on Money Mules can be found at Bank Safe Online*.

Bank Safe Online is the UK banking industry's initiative to help online banking customers stay safe online. This site is run by UK Payments on behalf of its member banks.

*Links to external sites are provided as part of our commitment to making online banking safe and secure. However, we cannot accept responsibility or liability for the content or availability of external sites. We cannot guarantee that any software downloaded from these sites will work, or be free from viruses or malicious code.