Money Mule Scams

Don't become a money mule for criminals - It isn't worth it!

What's a money mule?

A money mule is someone recruited by criminals to transfer the profits of their illegal activities. The money may have been stolen directly from another bank account or may be the profits of fraud, drug trafficking, child labour or prostitution. Most of the criminals carrying out this type of crime are located abroad, so a money mule based in the UK is required to transfer the money overseas.

Although some money mules know that they are handling stolen money, criminals also target groups such as university students to unwittingly laundering the funds on their behalf.

The money mule job-scam - How does it work?

  1. University students are often recruited through newspaper advertisements and the internet, with the role offering an apparent easy way to make some extra cash. The job is often advertised as a 'financial manager', 'UK representative', 'shipping manager' or 'sales manager' position. No particular skills or experiences are required, although during the recruitment process, access to a UK bank account and the ability to swiftly transfer funds abroad will be required.
  2. As part of the fraud, criminals will often go to great lengths to make the job look legitimate, such as creating a genuine looking company website and requiring an employment contract to be signed.
  3. Once recruited, the newly appointed 'company representative' will begin to receive regular deposits into their accounts. These funds will invariably have come from the proceeds crime.
  4. Minus a small commission, the mule is then requested to withdraw or transfer the funds for placement into an overseas account. This is usually done using a wire transfer service.

The consequences of being a money mule are:

  • The bank will spot this unusual activity on your account. Mules typically have a lifespan of only one or two transfers before being detected.
  • You will be liable to repay all the monies paid through your account.
  • Your bank accounts will be frozen and you will be severely limited in your ability to open a bank account or access financial products in the future.
  • You will damage your credit rating and potentially be black listed by the banks.
  • You may be subject to criminal investigation and if found guilty, given a criminal record.   

It's important to note that even if you have nothing to do with the actual theft of funds from another person's account, by enabling your bank account to be used in receiving and transferring such funds whether knowingly or unknowingly, you are acting illegally.

By providing your personal and account information to criminals you may also be putting yourself at risk from identity fraud.

5 key tips to protect yourself from the job scam

  • Be particularly wary of job offers from companies or people who are based overseas, as it will be extremely difficult for you to verify who they are.
  • Beware of any job offer based purely on an application or limited telephone interview. Check the company's contact details (such as a website, address and phone number) are correct and that they are registered in the UK. Don't be fooled by professional looking websites, many of the mule recruitment websites are created by criminals who are proficient in web-design.
  • If in doubt, speak to a relative, friend or teaching professional about the job offer; seek their honest opinion and advice.
  • Carefully study the adverts. Many bogus job advertisements are written in poor English and contain grammatical and spelling mistakes.
  • And…remember! Be cautious of 'job advertisements' claiming to offer you money with little or no requirement for specialist skills and previous work experience – if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

Who to report anything suspicious to

If you have already disclosed your personal and bank account details, or received funds into your account and feel you may have fallen victim to this type of scam, you should contact your bank immediately. More information and general help from protecting yourself from fraud can be found at either or

Don't forget to spread this message to your friends so that together we can protect students in the fight against fraudsters!