Money mules

Criminals often need help with moving money.

Discover how they recruit money mules and how to avoid this crime.

 

What is a money mule?

A money mule is a person who lets someone else use their bank account to move money.

Criminals recruit money mules to help turn the ‘dirty’ money they make from crime into ’clean’ cash. By doing this, the cash appears to have come from a legal source.

Never use your bank account to deposit or receive money from someone you don’t know or trust.

How criminals recruit money mules

Criminals create fake adverts and posts

Online job adverts and social media posts promising 'quick cash' or a ‘get rich quick scheme’ are often looking for money mules.

Always research any job, employer or offer before you make a decision.

Look for independent reviews online and find genuine contact details through a trustworthy website.

Criminals target students

If you’re at university or college, criminals can try to take advantage knowing you’re away from home or need extra money. 

They may offer things like high foreign exchange payment rates for international students. This is just another method to clean the money they make from crime.

You may be helping to move money that’s been stolen from friends, family or fellow students.

Your bank may ask you for proof of where your money has come from.

Criminals target people in need of money

If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, making some quick cash might be tempting.

Criminals know that people with money problems are more vulnerable and will target them as money mules. 

If you become a money mule without knowing, you’re still breaking the law.  

Always make sure a job or any other offer to make money is legal and not money muling in disguise.

Criminals try to be your friend

Criminals often come across as friendly to try to convince you to become a money mule. 

Never trust anybody, even a friend of a friend, who wants you to use your bank account to move money. 

Criminals recruit and keep in touch with money mules by phone, on social media and even in person.

How to avoid being a money mule

Protect your bank card and account details

Never give your bank card or account details to anyone unless you know and trust them.

Criminals can overpay your ‘wages’ or send money directly to your bank account then ask you to move the difference to another account.

Sometimes, they may ask for your bank card and other details so they can personally control your account for a limited time.

Be suspicious if it’s too good to be true

A genuine job or company will never want you to use your own bank account to move their money. Look out for these common warning signs: 

- You must use your bank account – to receive and then move money to another account.

- Offers from outside the UK – it’s harder for you to check a job or company is genuine.

- Everything happens online – from payment to messaging, and you never meet anyone in person.

- Large payments – for very little work.

You’re breaking the law if you become a money mule

Even if you don’t realise you’re a money mule, you can:

  • Go to prison – for up to 14 years.
  • Get a criminal record.
  • Have your bank account closed – your money taken away and find it difficult to open a new bank account.
  • Be made to leave your course – at university or college.
  • Be refused credit – including mobile phone contracts, loans and mortgages.

We work with other banks, the police and other agencies to stop criminals moving money and to prosecute money mules.

You’re breaking the law if you become a money mule

Even if you don’t realise you’re a money mule, you can:

  • Go to prison – for up to 14 years.
  • Get a criminal record.
  • Have your bank account closed – your money taken away and find it difficult to open a new bank account.
  • Be made to leave your course – at university or college.
  • Be refused credit – including mobile phone contracts, loans and mortgages.

We work with other banks, the police and other agencies to stop criminals moving money and to prosecute money mules.

Further advice and help

  • Report any online offer to the website or social media platform where it appears. 

    If a person you meet makes you an offer, break off all contact with them.

    To report money muling, contact the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also contact Crimestoppers online or call 0800 555 111.

    If you’ve given your personal or banking details to a criminal, tell your bank and then call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit Action Fraud.

    Get advice from someone you trust, like your family, university or college. Talk about it to keep other people safe. 

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