Warning to parents as teens are recruited over social media to act as money mules
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Officers are warning people of the dangers involved in helping organised criminals to launder their illegal money – and how social media is being used to recruit money mules.
More and more of these criminals are using platforms like SnapChat, Instagram or gaming platforms to target young teenagers and threaten, intimidate and manipulate them into becoming a money mule for them.
Criminals don't want to use their own bank account for their illicit gains, and that is where money mules come in.
Criminals will ask you to receive money into your bank account and then transfer it into another account and pay you by letting you keep a small sum for yourself.
If you let this happen, you’re a money mule - you’re involved in money laundering and that is a criminal offence which could see you facing some serious consequences.
Officers from North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) are warning of the dangers of money muling and educate people around the consequences of getting involved in this type of organised crime.
NEROCU Detective Sergeant Paddy O’Keefe said: “Most people think that being a money mule is quick and easy money and a victimless crime – but you couldn’t be more wrong.
“By helping organised criminals launder their money, you’re contributing to child and sex trafficking, supplying and distributing drugs, supporting modern day slavery and protecting those who run these operations.
“We’re seeing more and more people being recruited through apps like SnapChat and Instagram as well as through messenger functions on game consoles.
“Criminals manipulate vulnerable people into helping them and often use violence and threats to control their money mules and they become trapped.”
NEROCU officers and staff regularly speak to university and colleges students, target suspects, gather intelligence and work with partners and banks to strengthen the approach to tackling money mules and the wider impact of organised crime – but they need parents to speak to their children about money muling and warn them of the consequences.
DS O’Keefe continued: “If your child has a game console or phone with social media apps then please take the time to speak to them about money muling. It can severely impact their future and poses a real risk to them.
“When someone is caught, their bank account will be closed and they will have problems getting student loans, mortgages, mobile phone contracts and credit in the future. They could lose their job, relationships and face arrest for money laundering which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.”
Tell-tale signs that someone might be involved could be them suddenly having extra cash, buying expensive new clothes or top-of-the-range mobile phones and gadgets with very little explanation as to how they got the money. They may also become more secretive, withdrawn or appear stressed.