Money mule recruiters are posting fake adverts on job websites and social media to lure in young people looking for work or easy money during the Covid-19 pandemic, say UK Finance and Cifas.
There were 17,157 cases of suspected money muling activity involving 21-30 year olds in 2020, a five per cent increase on the previous year, according to Cifas research. This age group - among the hardest hit by the economic impact of Covid-19 - accounted for 42% of money mule activity for the year, up from 38% three years ago.
Crooks are exploiting people’s financial difficulties by using social media platforms, jobs websites and phishing emails to approach them with offers of easy cash, says UK Finance. The recruiters promise quick money to people who provide their bank details and then transfer the funds received to another account, keeping a cut for themselves, making them a money mule.
Often, people are unaware that allowing their bank accounts to be used in this way is a crime, says UK Finance, adding the practice could lead to their account being closed, affect their credit score and even lead to a criminal record.
UK Finance and Cifas are calling for fraud and economic crime to be included in the upcoming Online Safety Bill. This would make online platforms responsible for taking down fraudulent content, including social media posts or job adverts used to recruit people as money mules.
Katy Worobec, MD, economic crime, UK Finance, says: "Criminals are cruelly preying on ‘Generation Covid’ and those struggling to find work at this difficult time, by using fake job adverts online to recruit people as money mules.
“We would urge everyone to remain cautious about any offers of quick and easy money and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
“At the same time, online platforms must take swift action to detect and take down content being used to promote money muling activity. Organised criminal gangs use money mules to launder the profits of their devastating crimes, including fraud, drugs smuggling and people trafficking. We all have a duty to stop them.”