Fraud guide

Money mules

What is a money mule?

A money mule is a person who lets criminals use their bank account to move money.  Money mules are often paid or allowed to keep some of the money for themselves, but it’s a serious crime. Criminals trick people into doing this to hide where the money has really come from - this is known as money laundering. 

How does it happen?

Criminals may use one of the following tactics:

Fake job adverts/get rich quick schemes

Social media or online job ads offering quick money for very little work, such as using your bank account to transfer money or handing over your bank account login details for someone else to use.

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Fake investment schemes

Being offered a “start-up” fee to receive and move money with the promise of high returns for very little investment.

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Fake loan schemes

Being offered a cheap loan, no matter what your lending history has been like. They might say they overpaid and are asking for it be repaid to a different bank account from the one the money came from. They might also offer to help boost your credit score by sending you money and asking you to move it on.

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Romance Scams

A criminal will use a fake online profile to form a relationship with you. They may ask to use your bank account to transfer money to someone else’s account, saying they’re unable to access their account. They might make the excuses that they’re out the country and the payment is for medical expenses or a one-time limited investment.

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Rent an account

Being offered payment in exchange for clearing your bank account or making a new one and handing over full control of the account.  They’ll ask for online banking login information, your bank cards, and your contact details.

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What are the consequences?

Even if you didn’t know you were committing a crime, you may:

  • Have your bank account closed, making it very hard to open a new one.
  • Find it hard to get credit in the future to apply for loans, credit cards, mortgages or even a phone contract.
  • End up with a criminal record.
  • Go to prison for up to 14 years.

How to protect yourself

  • Never accept money into your bank account from someone you don’t know or trust, or when you don’t know where the money has come from.
  • Never give your bank details to someone you don’t know.
  • Research all job offers and stick to well-known sites for job advertisements.
  • Don’t apply or accept jobs that ask for the use of your own bank account.

If you think you’ve been caught up in a money mule scam or have been sent money into your bank account, don’t move the money on.  Contact us using the number on the back of your bank card for help.

If you wish to report a crime anonymously, you can contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit their website at https://crimestoppers-uk.org/