Parents in Bedfordshire urged to help stop rise in child money mules Image By Brian Jackson AdobeStock_75638936

“Don’t Be Fooled” campaign

Parents and guardians in Bedfordshire are being urged to warn their children about the dangers of becoming a money mule.

As part of the Don’t Be Fooled awareness campaign, Bedfordshire Police will be contacting schools to warn parents and guardians of the risks of their children becoming a money mule.

A money mule is someone who transfers stolen money through their own bank account on behalf of someone else and is paid for doing so. Criminals use money mules to launder the profits of their crimes.

Figures from Cifa show that in 2018, there were 5,819 cases of young people aged 14-18 using their bank accounts for money muling in the UK. This is a rise of 20% on 2017 (4,849 cases) and a 73% increase since 2016 (3,360 cases).

Young people are often unaware that acting as a money mule is illegal. They are approached to take part online or in person, including through social media, at school, college or sports clubs.

Michael Williams, Bedfordshire Police cyber security advisor, said:

“Our force is working closely with schools in our county to educate our youth about misusing their bank accounts.”Young people might be tempted by promises of easy money but they don’t realise that this way they are committing a crime which can have a serious impact on their future.

“When opening an account for your children please educate them about money muling and ask them to think twice before accepting offers of easy money. And if they are in doubt to ask an adult for help.”

To spot the tell-tale signs that someone 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  • A young person involved in money muling may become more secretive, withdrawn or appear stressed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 the police on 101 or through their online reporting centre.

They can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.