Criminals targeting teens to become money mules

New figures released today by FraudSMART, a fraud awareness initiative led by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), show that over €5 million was moved by money mules in the first half of 2021.

The vast majority of incidents involved people aged between 18 and 24. BPFI CEO Brian Hayes said that “criminals are deliberately targeting teens and young adults when recruiting money mules.” These criminals typically recruit people through social media, offering young people ‘easy’ money in return for them using their bank account to lodge or transfer money. These transactions, however, constitute “effectively money laundering and therefore a criminal offence.”

Becoming involved in these sort of activities can lead to serious consequences for a young person, even ignoring the potential of criminal conviction of up to 14 years. Hayes says that teenagers who become involved can be threatened with violence, or physically attacked, if they attempt to stop allowing the criminals to use their accounts. Teenagers could also see their bank accounts closed and will face difficulty accessing loans in the future.

FraudSMART is appealing to young people to be aware of their “Money Mule Red Flags for Young People.”

  • Beware if you receive an unsolicited e-mail or social media message that promises easy money for little or no effort.
  • Never agree to open a new bank account in your own name in order receive a transfer/inbound payments on behalf of the criminal.
  • Do not accept any job offers that ask you to use your own bank account to transfer money – a real company will not ask you to do this.
  • Never give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust, in particular if you have met them online.
  • Acting as money mule can damage your credit and financial standing.

Parents are advised to be aware of their “Red Flags for Parents/Guardians.”

  • Be on the lookout for signs of your child suddenly having extra money or becoming secretive, withdrawn or stressed.
  • Additional red flags include the appearance of increased spending on new clothes or technology with very little explanation as to how they got the money
  • Teens are particularly at risk because they are often unaware of the true nature of the activity that they are undertaking. They are attracted by the lure money in return for the use of their bank account to move money on behalf of criminals.
  • If you think your child may have become a victim of money muling, contact your local Garda station and inform their bank immediately.
  • Being a Money Mule is a criminal offence under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 and it can carry up to 14 years imprisonment.

A host of material including on Money Mules including information leaflets for young people and parents can be found at www.fraudsmart.ie.

 

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