A young person with a bank account and the opportunity to earn some easy money - sounds like an offer they just can’t refuse, right? But wait, the consequences of accepting this offer can be devastating.

Criminals need money mules to launder their dirty money and young people can be the perfect target. Money mules will usually be unaware of where the money comes from – fraud, scams and other serious crimes – or where it goes.

Here are some interesting insights from a recent Barclays press release on this growing problem.

  • New data from Barclays has revealed the number of under 21s being recruited by criminals has more than tripled between 2016 and 2019.
  • Only half of students say that they would tell the police if they were asked to be a money mule and only two in five would tell their bank.
  • One in twenty students said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are more likely to consider making easy money if approached, even if it looks suspicious

Cash-strapped students are key targets for fraudsters: 30 per cent of all money mules reported to Barclays last year (by victims and other banks) were under the age of 21. Research revealed that 52 per cent of students worry about their financial situation on a weekly basis, leaving them vulnerable to some of the common techniques used by fraudsters.

As many young people start to manage their own finances for the first time, they need to be extra vigilant and aware of the risks.

It’s common for criminals to use channels such as social media and messaging services to lure students into laundering dirty cash with fake job adverts offering easy money. These tactics appeal to students as six in 10 (57 per cent) said that they would be tempted to click through to find out more about a recruitment advert for a dream role at a company they’ve never heard of.

Group of teens, helping a friend who's received a worrying message

Here's some tips to help young people avoid falling victim to this fast-growing scam:


1. Being offered easy money?

Be wary of job adverts offering higher than normal rates of pay for jobs, particularly stay at home jobs.

2. Do your research 

Look into any company offering such job opportunities and make sure their contact details are genuine. Try to stick to reputable job ad websites.

3. Talk to someone you trust 

If your bank account is being used to move money, speak to someone in authority, such as a parent, family member or teacher; particularly if you are being pressured into accepting money into your account.

4. Don’t accept money into your account

If you don’t know where it’s come from, don’t forward it on. Contact your bank immediately for help.

5. Don’t share your bank details

Never share any personal details including your mobile number with someone you don’t know.

6. Warning to parents

Be aware of children talking about a new job working from home and earning more money than their friends, or look out for new expensive items that they’ve purchased.


Watch this video to learn more and help protect our young people.


Visit moneymules.co.uk for more information. You can also keep up to date with all the latest scams at www.barclays.co.uk/digisafe.

You can find more information on the various types of online and offline fraud, including money mule fraud via Barclays LifeSkills.

Source: https://home.barclays/news/press-releases/2020/09/under-21s-recruited-as--money-mules--more-than-triple--barclays-0/