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Warnings are being issued to parents after it emerged thousands of people in the West Midlands, including many children, are being used to transfer money between bank accounts on behalf of criminals.

The young people, who are being dubbed ‘Money Mules’, are often told they will be paid if they agree to use their own account to transfer the criminal’s funds to another account.

Using a third party to move money, helps offenders avoid detection by police.

According to statistics from Cifas, a UK fraud prevention service that works on behalf of banks, the West Midlands Police force area saw nearly 3,000 cases of fraudulent conduct between January and September last year, which held intelligence indicative of money mule behaviour.  

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, is so concerned about the issue that he has teamed up with HSBC UK, to launch an awareness raising campaign across Tiktok, Instagram and Youtube to alert young people to the risks.

HSBC UK have sponsored the campaign.

Birmingham is said to have the highest number of cases of any council area in the country, followed by Newham in London.

Knowingly transferring money on behalf of criminals is money laundering and can be punished with up to 14 years in prison.

Being used as a Money Mule could affect a person’s credit rating, career prospects and ability to get a bank account.

Young people who are targeted are being urged to report the incident to their parents, the police or tell their teacher. Parents are also being asked to look out for any unusual behaviour or other warning signs.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “It is disgraceful and shameful that criminals are taking advantage of young people, just so they can try and evade the law.

“The offenders know that if they move their own stolen cash around then sooner or later they will be caught. That’s why they often criminally exploit young people and rope them in to doing their criminal work for them.

“So, as well as the police tracking down criminals, arresting them and bringing them to justice, I’ve decided to get the message out to parents and children, in order to prevent young people becoming victims of criminal exploitation in the first place. We need young people and parents to be aware and report any suspicious activity to the police immediately.” 

Natasha Moore is the Local Director for HSBC UK, she said: “Scammers target individuals, gaining their consent to allow money to be transferred through their bank account in exchange for payment.

“It might seem like a harmless way to increase your income, or even win favour with a new friend, but the money being transferred could well be stolen and ultimately used to fund organised crime, including terrorism.

“We have recently relaunched our free Fraud and Cyber Awareness mobile app to provide additional protection to customers. The app is available to download by everyone, whether they are customers or not, or use Android or iOS platforms, and comes as HSBC UK reveals the most common ways fraudsters are scamming people out of thousands of pounds and how you can spot their tricks.

“People can also visit our Fraud and Security Centre for advice and information.”

Editors Notes

For more information please contact Tom Turrell on [email protected]

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