FraudSMART is warning young people against getting involved in financial fraud after a survey showed that two in five 18 to 24-year olds are willing to be ‘money mules’ for financial profit.
Who are ‘money mules’?
‘Money mules,’ or ‘money transfer agents,’ are people recruited by criminals to help transfer stolen or illegally obtained money from bank accounts.
The criminals pretend to be employers and deceive people into laundering money on their behalf.
What is money laundering?
Laundering is the crime of moving money that has been obtained illegally through banks and other businesses to make it seem as if the money has been obtained legally
The criminals contact targets with a job opening advert online, on job search websites or in newspapers. These jobs are usually advertised as “Financial Manager” or “Payments Clerk” with no requirement other than having a bank account. The ‘money mule’ accepts the job as they are promised a share of the proceeds in exchange for their bank account details.
Once recruited, a ‘money mule’ receives stolen funds into their account. Then, there is usually a request to transfer or forward the funds, minus their part of the pay, usually overseas, using a money or wire transfer service. The money the mule is transferring is stolen, which means they become involved in the crime of money laundering.
Who is FraudSMART?
FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed and led by the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), along with Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, PermanentTSB, Ulster Bank and An Post. They raise awareness about the latest financial fraud activity and trends and provide simple advice on how best consumers and businesses can protect themselves.
What is the FraudSMART campaign?
An Garda Síochána in association with FraudSMART are advising consumers, particularly young adults, to be aware of the risks and consequences of acting as ‘money mules,’ after a survey done in March 2019 using a nationally representative sample showed strong evidence of money mule activity among young people in Ireland.
What did the FraudSMART survey reveal?
- Two in five (43%) of 18 to 24-year olds are likely or very likely to transfer money for someone using their own bank account in exchange for keeping some of the money for themselves
- This means that the 18 to 24 age group is the most susceptible to becoming money mules, compared with an overall average of 29% of adults across all age groups surveyed
- 14% of 18 to 24-year olds say that they or someone they know have already been approached by another person looking to use their bank details to store money for someone else
- One in five (19%) of young adults aged 18-24 who reported that they or someone they know have been asked by a third party for their bank details to carry out a transaction
- In comparison, 12% of adults aged 25+, with older age groups overall, are less likely to be approached
- BPFI’s member banks, including AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, PTSB and Ulster Bank, collectively had more than 1,600 confirmed cases of money mule activity on customer accounts in 2018, which largely involved young account holders
Consequences of acting as a ‘money mule’
- Breach of contract with the bank
- Prospect of a criminal record as a money mule
- Possibility of aiding other criminal activities funded by the proceeds of money laundered through your account
Tips to avoid fraud
- Thoroughly research any work from home opportunities and do not get involved unless you are sure the business is legitimate.
- Verify any company that makes you a job offer and check their contact details (address, landline phone number, email address and website)
- Be very careful of uninvited offers or opportunities to make easy money
- Be especially wary of job offers from people or companies overseas as it will be harder for you to find out if they are legitimate
- Never give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them
- Never allow your bank account to be used by someone else
- If a job sounds too good to be true, then it probably is
A team of up to 30 crime prevention officers from An Garda Síochána will be on college campuses around the country over the coming weeks to engage with students to further highlight the issue of financial fraud.
For more information, visit the Garda website for crime prevention advice and contact details of local Garda Stations.