How to avoid becoming a money mule
Been told you can earn easy cash by moving funds through your bank account? Or been asked to apply for bank cards in your name? Learn more about what a money mule is and how to avoid this type of scam.
Published on: 24 August 2023
What is a money mule?
Criminals may approach you online, in person or you might see a post on social media. They’ll ask to move money through your account, with you being allowed to keep some as payment. Or they may pay you to apply for bank cards in your name which they can then use. If you do this, it’s money laundering. And you’ve become a middle man known as a money mule.
Even if you don’t know where the money is going or what it’s for, acting as money mule can lead to long-term consequences if you’re caught. Your bank accounts will be frozen or closed, and you could end up serving prison time. You’ll also find that opening new accounts, as well as getting phone contracts and loans will be more difficult in the future.
Money laundering is used to hide money earned through criminal activity. And it funds serious crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling. Getting involved with these people could put you and your family at risk of intimidation and violence if you try to stop working with them.
As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Things to remember
- Always be suspicious of the promise of money in exchange for moving funds through your bank account.
Trustworthy companies will never ask you to do this. And never respond to any job adverts that promise high financial reward for minimal effort – it’s likely to be a scam.
- Never open a bank account in your name for anyone else.
The same goes for letting someone use your bank account to send and receive funds. You should also never disclose your passwords, PINS and passcodes with anyone.
- Do your research on any advertised jobs.
Check to see if their contact details are genuine. Do they have a website? Are they listed at Companies House? Do they have online reviews for their products or services? By doing your own research, you’ll get a good idea about whether the opportunity is real or not.
- Be careful of adverts from overseas as it can be hard to check if they're legitimate.
It’s easier to create a company and make it look like the real thing in certain countries. And as they don’t have the same safeguards that we have in the UK, it can be impossible to check up on their validity.
- Don’t forget about our Scam Checker Service
If you’re ever unsure about a payment you’re making from your Nationwide current account, you can talk to us first. Call us, or visit us in branch, and we’ll tell you if we think it’s a scam or not. This is our Scam Checker Service. Some payments are excluded.
For more information, visit moneymules.co.uk (opens in new window)
Our partnership with Independent Age
We’re working together to support members over the age of 65 who are at risk of, or have fallen victim to, fraud and scams.
Independent Age can help with a range of issues that can affect people in later life. So if you, or someone you know has lost money, needs emotional support or financial advice, get in touch. You can also download their Scamwise guide.
Stop. Challenge. Protect
We're proud to be supporting the industry fraud awareness campaign Take Five, which encourages you to perfect the art of saying NO to criminals by taking five minutes to Stop, Challenge, Protect.
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police so it can be difficult to spot scam texts, emails and phone calls. However, there are things we can all do to protect ourselves.
Always remember to challenge if someone contacts you asking for your personal or financial information – be direct and say NO. Saying NO can feel uncomfortable but it’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
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