SOLIHULL schoolchildren have been warned of the dangers of becoming a Money Mule by criminals who want to use them to transfer money on their behalf.
West Midlands Police officers have been visiting schools in the borough after it was revealed that children in the region are being targeted by criminals to move cash between bank accounts on their behalf.
Officers have been handing out material and speaking to pupils, who could be at risk of becoming Money Mules who 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.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, has been running a campaign on the issue and a specialised website he launched, is being used to help youngsters avoid becoming caught up in the scheme.
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.
Mr Foster is so concerned about the issue, that he launched a website to alert young people to the risks earlier this year, which students are now being signposted towards.
He said: “It is disgraceful and shameful, that ruthless 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 have 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.”
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.