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Has someone asked you to ‘mind’ their money in your personal bank account?

Warning sign with muleThis could be money muling, a serious crime that can result in a prison sentence – #DontBeAMule 

It’s Global Money Week and FraudSMART is alerting the public, especially young people, about the risks of Money Muling. A money mule is someone recruited by criminals to receive money into their bank account in order to transfer stolen or fraudulent money to another account or withdraw the money and wire it overseas. This is often done in return for a ‘fee’ or a commission.

There has been an increase in the numbers of money mule accounts identified in recent years, likely reflecting increased levels of activity in text message scams and investment fraud, as criminals seek ways to launder their profits. FraudSMART members identified over 2,600 money mule accounts in the first half of 2023 with the average amount moved through the accounts in the region of €10k, more than double the average amount observed in H1 2022.

Read about a recent case of teenagers in Kerry caught up in money muling for a criminal gang: Kerry-based money mules laundered €1.3m for fraud gang – The Irish Times

Who becomes a money mule?

While people of any age are susceptible to becoming a money mule, the majority are aged between 18 and 24 years of age with some known cases as young as 14 and 15. Criminals frequently target young adults through social media ads and messages or seemingly legitimate job adverts, but they are also known to approach young people in-person outside schools, colleges, or sports clubs.

What happens to the money?

The money transferred by money mules are proceeds of crime, often stolen from innocent victims of text message scams and other types of fraud, that our own friends and family can fall victim to. The money being laundered is often used by criminals to facilitate other serious crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling. This is why the consequences faced for money muling are so serious and can result in a criminal record.

What are the consequence of money muling?

If you are caught acting as a money mule, even if done so unwittingly, you can face a prison sentence, fine or community service, and the prospect of a criminal record. In addition, you will have your bank account closed, have difficulty getting loans and mobile phone contracts and will be restricted when it comes to travelling, including to Australia or on a J1.

Top things to look out for to avoid falling victim to money mule recruiters:

  1. Be very cautious of unsolicited emails or approaches promising opportunities to make easy money, particularly on social media.
  2. Thoroughly research any work from home opportunities and do not get involved unless you are sure the business is legitimate.
  3. Be particularly cautious of offers from people or companies overseas seeking ‘local/national representatives’ or ‘agents’ to act on their behalf as it is difficult to verify their legitimacy.
  4. Do not accept any job offers that ask you to use your own bank account to transfer money.
  5. Never give your bank Kerry-based money mules laundered €1.3m for fraud gang – The Irish Times details to anyone unless you know and trust them.
  6. Never allow your bank account to be used by someone else.
  7. Never agree to open a new bank account in your own name in order to receive payments on behalf of the criminal.

If you have been approached to act as a money mule or have been a victim of this type of crime, report it to your local Garda station and contact your bank.

Global Money Week (18-24 March) is an annual worldwide financial awareness campaign for children and young people. Organised by the OECD International Network on Financial Education (INFE), the goal of Global Money Week (GMW) is to give young people the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to make sound financial decisions and ultimately achieve financial wellbeing and resilience.

Be Informed, Be Alert, Be Secure – Be FraudSMART