What is money muling?

Illustration shows three young people young surrounded by money, with the middle person watering a money plant

It’s likely you’ve seen the posts on social media – people offering real cash in exchange for your bank details. It can be tempting to earn some quick and easy cash, but money muling can have serious consequences. Read on to learn what being a money mule is all about.

What does money muling mean?

There’s an official name for someone who is carrying money for someone else (whether on your person or in a bank account) – a money mule. Financial experts, MyBnk, have written a handy guide to help you understand what money muling is.

So what is a money mule? Here’s Europol’s definition:

Money muling is a type of money laundering. A money mule is a person who receives money from a third party in their bank account and transfers it to another one or takes it out in cash and gives it to someone else, obtaining a commission for it… Simply put, money mules help criminal syndicates to remain anonymous while moving funds around the world.

So when that social media post asking for ‘squares’ or ‘nattys’ comes up, just remember you might be helping some SERIOUS criminals do some SERIOUS crime – and that’s before we even get to what might happen to YOU if you get caught!

What will happen if I become a money mule?

You could go to prison

Let’s start with the obvious one – you could go to jail! The maximum sentence for money muling is a whopping 14 years of prison time – think about that risk before you hand over your details.

Your bank account might get suspended

Next, if you get arrested for money muling, or even if the bank THINKS you MIGHT be a money mule, your account will usually be suspended or even closed. This might make it harder for you to access your own legal money, especially in the case of suspended accounts, where the money is frozen until investigations are completed.

You could have a record for fraud

  • Even if you don’t have to go to prison, if your bank thinks the account is used for fraud, your credit file will receive what is called a “first party fraud” marker from Cifas (who manage the largest database of fraud instances in the country).
  • This marker will stay on your file for six years and will let everyone who checks your file know that your account was used for fraud purposes. This means you’ll usually be barred from opening a bank account – and that can have more knock on effects later.
  • How will you be paid? If you work, how will you explain to your boss they need to pay you differently because you have a fraud notice? If you get paid by cheque, how are you going to cash that cheque?

Why would someone want me to be a money mule?

It’s because they want YOU to take the risk. YOUR account will be suspended. YOUR credit file smashed to pieces for six years – meanwhile they can find someone else and keep making their cash, hurting innocent victims and getting their mules arrested.

What should I do if someone asks me to be a money mule?

  • Walk away – is £1,000 now going to be worth six years of no credit file? How about up to 14 years in jail? How do you know your ‘handler’ won’t get violent if something goes wrong?
  • If you know someone who’s thinking about doing it – perhaps send them to this article!
  • Plus, there are loads of LEGAL ways to make a bit of side cash – you can check out some of our tips right here on our money hub.

Should I trust job ads that look official?

Not always – beware of vague ‘work from home’ jobs that sound like this – some adverts pretend to come from banks offering you a real job. If you see a job like this, you should call the company it’s claiming to be from, using the phone line on their official website (not the one the advert has!) and check if it is real or not. ‘Money Transfer Specialist’ is one example of a job title for a money muling scam that we’ve seen before.

More information on money muling

Here are a few links you might find interesting on the subject:

More information on managing your money

Head to our money hub page and read our financial guides with MyBnk here and here.

The Mix would like to thank MyBnk for their help and expertise in producing this article. For further info on all things money:

Next Steps

  • The Money Helper offers free, unbiased and independent advice about all financial matters. 0800 138 7777
  • StepChange offers free advice on your debt problems, basing it round what's right for you. 0800 138 1111
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By Holly Turner

Updated on 02-Jul-2021