Have you been asked to put money in your bank account by a friend, or through someone you have met online?
They might have said you can keep some of the money, just for putting it into your account and then drawing or transferring it out again.
This is sometimes known as squaring, money laundering or being a money mule. It might sound harmless and an easy way to make a bit of cash, but it could actually be linked to serious crime and could have real consequences for you in the future.
Criminals who make money through crime such as drugs, guns, human trafficking and fraud, often use people to hold or move their money for them as a way of hiding the crime. They will tell you that there is nothing wrong with doing this and that you’re just doing them a favour. They might give you money for helping them out.
The police and banks look out for unusual activity in everyone’s accounts and will soon spot transactions that looks suspicious. If you are found to be putting money in your account or transferring it for someone, then you can get in trouble, even if you genuinely didn’t know where the money came from.
Consequences can include not being able to access credit in the future, including mobile phone contracts, credit or store cards, or a mortgage, you could even be refused a bank account. Even more seriously, you could get a criminal record and go to jail for up to 14 years.
Tips & advice
People often become money mules without realising it. You might think they aren’t doing anything wrong, but end up being involved in money laundering and fraud.
To help avoid this, be aware of the following:
- Don’t give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them.
- Be wary of job offers where all interactions and transactions will be done online.
- Be suspicious of offers of easy money. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
If you are worried that you have been targeted as part of this crime, you should speak to an adult that you trust. You should also contact your bank as soon as possible, they have specialist teams who will be able to help you.
You can also contact the police or other organisations who can provide assistance:
In a non-emergency contact the police on 101.
If a crime is in progress or there is a danger to life call 999.
You can speak to West Yorkshire Police online via Live Chat on: https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101LiveChat
If you would rather not contact the police you can call –
Crimestoppers (you can speak to Crimestoppers anonymously) – 0800 555 111
Childline – 0800 1111
NSPCC – 0808 800 5000
Every year, tens of thousands of accounts are closed due to money laundering. Those involved might not realise their accounts are being used to fund criminality. This video on YouTube from the Metropolitan Police helps to explain it.