There were over 17,000 suspected money muling cases in 2020, a five percent increase on the previous year, according to Cifas.
The fraud prevention service believes fraudsters are targeting ‘generation Covid’ as people look for work and to earn money during the pandemic. Some 40% of this muling activity is done by 21-30 year olds.
Cifas explained that criminals are exploiting financial difficulties by using social media platforms, jobs websites and phishing emails to approach them with offers easy cash.
Some lenders have actively targeted this area with pre-emptive action. Lloyds Banking Group created a money mule-hunting team which has uncovered more than 88,000 mule accounts, according to Vim Maru, group director of retail banking. He said that since the launch of the team in 2018, they have stopped £60m going to fraudsters.
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, has also called on online platforms to help tackle money muling. She said: “Online platforms must take swift action to detect and take down content being used to promote money muling activity. Organised criminal gangs use money mules to launder the profits of their devastating crimes. We all have a duty to stop them.”
Mike Haley, chief executive of Cifas, said: “Allowing your bank account to be used to transfer funds is illegal. Although transferring funds doesn’t feel like it’s doing any harm, the money you’re being asked to move often comes from scams and crimes committed against innocent members of the public.”