UK Police Warn on Money Mulling Increase among Youngsters
Thousands of youngsters are being manipulated by criminals into shifting cash between accounts in exchange for some pocket money, effectively acting as “money mules,” U.K. officials warned.
Police in England’s central region of West Midlands on Monday urged parents to be vigilant after finding that thousands of people in the area, including many children, are being exploited to move money between bank accounts on behalf of criminals.
“It might seem like a harmless way to increase your income, or even win favor with a new friend, but the money being transferred could well be stolen and ultimately used to fund organized crime, including terrorism,” according to Natasha Moore, the local director of the HSBC UK bank, which sponsors the money muling awareness campaign.
The warning also cited the U.K. fraud prevention service – Cifas, according to which “the West Midlands Police force area saw nearly 3,000 cases of fraudulent conduct between January and September last year, which held intelligence indicative of money mule behavior.”
Birmingham is claimed to have the most cases in the country, followed by London’s Newham, according to the report.
“Knowingly transferring money on behalf of criminals is money laundering,” the police warned. The crime is punishable with up to 14 years in jail.
Besides that, being used as a money mule “could affect a person’s credit rating, career prospects and ability to get a bank account,” the warning explained.
Police, in cooperation with HSBC UK bank, also decided to use popular social media platforms such as Tiktok, Instagram, and Youtube to educate young people about the escalating criminality and the risks it brings.
“Young people who are targeted are being urged to report the incident to their parents, the police or tell their teacher. Parents are also being asked to look out for any unusual behavior or other warning signs,” read the statement.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said it is appalling and shameful that criminals take advantage of young people in order to dodge the law.
“The offenders know that if they move their own stolen cash around then sooner or later they will be caught. That’s why they often criminally exploit young people and rope them into doing their criminal work for them,” he said.
HSBC UK representative Natasha Moore stated that the bank has revamped its free Fraud and Cyber Awareness app to alert consumers about the most frequent methods fraudsters cheat individuals out of thousands of pounds and how to recognize their techniques.