As the academic year gets underway, Barclays is warning of a sharp rise in the number of cash-strapped students being targeted by criminals to act as money mules.
There was a 23% increase in student money mules - people who help launder money by receiving it into their bank account and transferring it on - between last September and October, says Barclays.
Two in five money mules are under the age of 25, and one in five are under 21. Additional research from the bank shows that over a quarter of 18 - 21 year olds would be happy to move money around under someone else’s direction, if it meant being paid some money.
And with their essential spending soaring during the cost of living crisis, students might be more susceptible to becoming money mules, says the bank.
Ross Martin, head, digital safety, Barclays, says: “Criminals will often set up fake profiles on social media, and make posts advertising quick cash or easy investments.
“Always be wary of people reaching out to you online with too-good-to-be-true opportunities, get-rich-quick schemes, and requests to pass money through your bank account.
“Remember, being a money mule can not only make it difficult to get credit down the line - like a student loan, phone contract, or mortgage - but you could also end up with a criminal record.”