Money mules

Criminals use people to move the money they make from crime.

Learn how to avoid being a money mule.

 

What is a money mule?

A money mule is someone who lets another person use their bank account to move money.

Criminals use money mules to turn the money they make from crime or ‘dirty’ money into ‘clean’ cash. This cash then seems to be from a legal source.  

Never use your bank account to deposit or receive money from a person or company you don’t know or trust.

How criminals recruit money mules

Criminals create fake adverts and posts

Be wary of any job advert online or social media post that offers you a ‘get rich quick scheme’ or promises a quick way to make cash. These are some of the methods criminals use to find money mules. 

Before you reply to an advert or post, do some research and search for independent reviews online. 

Always get contact details for a company from a website you trust.

Criminals target students

Criminals know that students at university or college might be more vulnerable because they need money or are away from their family. 

They target international students by offering to exchange foreign currency with high payment rates. But this is still moving ‘dirty’ money.

You may be moving money that friends, family or fellow students have lost to crime.

Your bank can ask for proof of where your money has come from.

Criminals target people in need of money

If you’re struggling with money, criminals may tempt you with offers to make some quick cash. What they want is for you to become a money mule.

Some people don’t realise they’re a money mule until it’s too late and they’ve broken the law.

Make sure a job or any offer to make money is genuine before you accept it.

Criminals try to be your friend

It’s easier for a criminal to tempt you into money muling if they first become your friend.

Refuse any offer to use your bank account to move money, even for a close friend. 

Criminals often recruit and contact money mules in person, as well as through social media and by phone.

How to avoid being a money mule

Protect your bank card and account details

Keep your bank card and account details private. If you need to share them, make sure you know and trust the person or company.

Criminals may put money into your account then ask you to move some of it to another account. They might say this payment is your wage and that you’ve been overpaid.

Some criminals want to take your bank card and other details so they can control your account.

Be suspicious if it’s too good to be true

If a job or company wants you to use your own bank account to move their money, it’s a crime. Some common warning signs of money muling are: 

- Using your bank account – to receive and then move money to another account.

- Offers from outside the UK – it can be more difficult to check if a job or company is genuine.

- Everything happens online – they pay and message you, but you never get to meet them in person.

- They pay a lot – but you don’t do any real work.

You’re breaking the law if you become a money mule 

It doesn’t matter if you know you’re a money mule or not, you can still:

  • Go to prison – for up to 14 years.
  • Get a criminal record.
  • Have your bank account closed – your money taken from you and find it hard to get a new bank account.
  • Be forced to leave your course – at university or college.
  • Have credit refused – for things such as loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts.

We work with other banks, the police and other agencies to stop criminals moving money and to prosecute money mules.

You’re breaking the law if you become a money mule

It doesn’t matter if you know you’re a money mule or not, you can still:

  • Go to prison – for up to 14 years.
  • Get a criminal record.
  • Have your bank account closed – your money taken from you and find it hard to get a new bank account.
  • Be forced to leave your course – at university or college.
  • Have credit refused – for things such as loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts.

We work with other banks, the police and other agencies to stop criminals moving money and to prosecute money mules.

Further advice and help

  • Report online offers to money mule to the social media platform or website where they appear. 

    Turn down any offers made in person and never give them your contact details.

    To contact Police Scotland about money muling, call 101 or 999 in an emergency. Visit Crimestoppers online or call them on 0800 555 111.

    Tell your bank if a criminal has your personal or banking details and tell Police Scotland.

    If you need advice, talk to your family, university, college or anyone else you can trust. By talking, you keep other people safe.

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