Students targeted for use as ‘money mules’

Written by Oliver Wade

A growing number of young people are being lured in illegal works as “money mules”, as Cifas revealed that there was a 27% increase in the number of 14-24 year olds being used during 2017.

The National Fraud Database warned earlier on this year that fraudsters were targeting younger people through messaging app, WhatsApp. Cifas said that cash-strapped students were a particular target for the scam as fraudsters often promised large rewards for minimal amounts of work.

Over 32,000 bank accounts were highlighted as being subject to money laundering by money mules last year, an 11% increase over 2016.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions managing director of business services Dean Curtis reported that young people were engaging in illegal activity without considering the potential consequences.

“To avoid banks’ stringent identity fraud checks, criminals are increasingly turning to laundering their illicit funds through other people's bank accounts, and probably giving them great compensation for doing so,” Curtis said.

“This trend has already increased 11% since 2016 and could easily continue to rise. More young people are being recruited in this manner, particularly among the student population, who are handing over their identities and banking credentials without understanding the implications.”

Further data published by Cifas illustrated that identity fraud reached an all-time high in 2017, with 174,523 cases recorded and 95% of these cases resulted in the impersonation of an innocent victim.

Cifas deputy chief executive Mike Haley described the levels of fraud in the UK as “frighteningly high” and said criminals were using “increasingly sophisticated” techniques to find victims.

“As some targets become harder to crack, criminals turn to what they consider are softer targets. However, as fraudsters see their attempts become more difficult, the question will arise about where they will target next.”

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