Youths Warned Against Money Laundering

Police are warning of the dangers of becoming a money mule after the amount of teenagers misusing their bank accounts increased by 73% in just two years.

Parents, guardians and schools across Northern Ireland are urged to speak to the youths in their care about the risk of such activity in light of the shocking figures.

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, effectively implicating themselves in criminal activity.

Figures from Cifas 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, a rise of 20% on the previous year (4,849 cases) and a 73% on 2016 (3,360 cases).

The PSNI, in partnership with Scamwise NI issued letters to all post primary schools, further education colleges and universities to warn teens with bank accounts against the activity, as pressures including the rise of social media expose them to fraudsters.

Allowing someone to use your bank account for fraud can result in a custodial sentence, a consequence that's lesser known among young people.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: "Young people are often unaware that acting as a money mule is illegal. They are often recruited through social media or approached to take part in person at school or college.
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"It may seem like an easy way to make money, but as well as being illegal, being a money mule means you may also be helping to fund serious crimes such as drug dealing and people trafficking. If your bank account is used for money laundering, it can lead to you losing your account and you could find it extremely difficult to get access to a new one. This can cause difficulties in the future ranging from problems receiving genuine payments."

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 below:

• 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.

Further information can be found online.

Chief Superintendent Walls concluded: "I would appeal to parents and guardians and ask them not to contact any individual they suspect of organising money muling instead they should contact Police on 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."


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