Get-rich-quick social media scams are turning teens into money mules

In a recent investigation by Sky News, it was revealed that fraudsters are increasingly preying on young people, turning teenagers into money mules by promising them easy money via ads on Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms.

Via social media get-rich-quick ads, the criminals talk victims into using their own bank accounts to launder the proceeds from crimes. They promise their victims a cut of the proceeds, but all too often, the victims don’t get anything. Rather, the victims get less than nothing: their bank accounts wind up being used to launder funds, and the victims wind up becoming money mules… a crime that’s called “misuse of facility fraud.”

UK fraud prevention agency Cifas explains:

‘Misuse of facility’ fraud is where an account, policy or product is misused by the genuine account holder. The most common example is when an individual allows their bank account to be used to facilitate the movement of criminal funds. Often described as a ‘money mule’, individuals commit fraud by moving money through their own account and then to a third party, who is usually located in another country.

Victims can also find themselves guilty of committing this type of fraud when they sell their bank account; knowingly make a payment they know will bounce; or open up credit card, retail accounts or mobile phone contracts with no intention of honoring the credit agreements.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, said that even if mules get a percent of the criminal proceeds, it’s not worth it:

Criminals may make it sound attractive by offering a cash payment, but the reality is that letting other people use your account in this way is fraud, and it’s illegal. You may end up with an extra £200 at Christmas, but you could also end up with a fraud record. It isn’t worth it. We want to send a clear message to try and deter young people from getting involved in this kind of activity.