• UK Finance has warned ‘money mules’ face harsh penalties for facilitating money laundering
• Young people looking for work as a result of the pandemic are being targeted by criminals posing as legitimate employers
• Money mule cases involving 21 to 30 year olds were up 5% in 2020
Laith Khalaf, financial analyst, AJ Bell:
“Receiving cash in your bank account and then transferring it on sounds innocent enough, but it could well be a criminal offence with extremely serious consequences. The slice of the cash you receive as payment will pale into insignificance if you then find yourself denied access to a bank account, credit card, or mobile phone contract, and pick up a criminal record to boot.
“Money laundering is big business and it’s a criminal offence because it obscures the financial trail of the proceeds of crime. Money mules are simply being used as pawns by criminals seeking to stash away the money they’ve acquired through drug trafficking and people smuggling, or are using to fund terrorism.
“If someone wants to pay you simply to receive cash and pay it on, chances are it’s for a nefarious reason. Criminals know full well that there are plenty of young people out of work as a result of the pandemic and they’re trying to use that for their own advantage. If you’re approached out of the blue by someone offering you payment to move cash around, you need to be on high alert. Do some research on who they claim to be, and if you can’t find anything official, then just say no.”