Students in Northampton are being unwittingly recruited as “mules” by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money between different bank accounts.
A money mule is someone who is used by criminals who need to launder money obtained unlawfully.
Northamptonshire Police is sending out warnings that these criminals are advertising fake jobs in newspapers and on the internet, usually offering opportunities to make money quickly.
A spokesman for Action Fraud, the UK cyber crime centre, said: “Students are particularly susceptible to adverts of this nature. For someone in full-time education, the opportunity for making money quickly can understandably be an attractive one.
“The mule will accept money into their bank account, before following further instructions on what to do with the funds.”
Tactics the criminals use have included social media posts, copying a genuine company’s website, sending mass emails offering employment or even targeting jobseekers who have posted their CVs on employment websites.
Instructions they later issue could include transferring the money into a separate specified account or withdrawing the cash and forwarding it on via money transfer service companies like Western Union or MoneyGram.
The mule is generally paid a small percentage of the funds as they pass through their account. Not only can money laundering lead to prison, it can see mules being unable to obtain credit in the UK and prevented from holding a bank account.
Action Fraud’s tips to protect yourself:
-Be aware that the offence of money laundering carries a maximum prison sentence, in the UK, of 14 years.
-Never give the details of your bank account to anyone that you do not trust.
-No legitimate company will ever ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Don’t accept any job offers that ask you to do this.
-Be wary of unsolicited emails or social media posts promising ways of earning easy money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
-Don’t be afraid to question the legitimacy of any businesses that make you a job offer, especially if the recruitment procedure strays from the conventional.