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Cifas research reveals sharp rise in middle-aged money mules

14 October 2019
  • Money mule activity increases 25% among those over 40
  • Instances of money muling by under 21’s decreases

Latest research carried out by Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has revealed a sharp rise in those over the age over 40 acting as ‘money mules’.

Money muling occurs when an individual receives money into their bank account and transfers it elsewhere, often with the promise that that they can keep a portion of the cash for themselves. This kind of criminal activity could result in the complicit person’s bank account being closed, as well as difficulty obtaining financial products including loans and mortgages. In some cases it may even result in a prison sentence.

Cifas research shows a 25% increase in money muling activity in those aged 41-50 over the nine months up until September, and a 26% rise among those aged 51-60.

Much work has been done recently by banks and the wider anti-fraud community to raise awareness of the consequences of money muling amongst young people, which may be leading fraudsters to turning their sights towards older victims.

However, younger people are still responsible for the largest proportion of money mule activity, with those under 40 contributing 83% of the total number of incidents reported. But the research reveals that the rate of growth is stalling among these age groups – decreasing by 6% for those under the age of 21.

Despite this, the fight is far from over - as BBC Money Box recently found while carrying out an undercover investigation. A reporter uncovered several attempts to manipulate people into committing financial fraud, including a 16 year old who offered the reporter £400 to cash out a deposit into their bank account. In another case, a teenager asked the reporter to cash £30,000 worth of cheques in exchange for a share of the funds. In a third case, an international university student told the reporter of a man posing as a student who claimed to be part of a money muling gang targeting university students as they were less likely to generate suspicion.

Mike Haley, Chief Executive of Cifas, said: ‘This research tells a bittersweet story. On the one hand, it’s clear that efforts to educate younger people about the risks of participating in fraud is paying off, but on the other hand there remains a vulnerability among older audiences which fraudsters are happy to exploit.

‘Middle aged people need to be increasingly vigilant of being targeted by fraudsters, and understand that the consequences of being a money mule can be devastating and life changing – both for them and their families.’

 

ENDS

 

For more information, please contact:

Golin
T: +44 (0)20 067 0008
E: cifas@golin.com

Notes to editors

Appendix

Age of those recorded for cases bearing the hallmarks of money muling:

age band

2018

2019

change

Proportion

<21

8059

7564

-6%

23%

21-30

11432

12404

9%

38%

31-40

6007

6982

16%

22%

41-50

2862

3578

25%

11%

51-60

1212

1522

26%

5%

61+

375

418

11%

1%

 

About Cifas

Cifas exists to prevent fraud and financial crime. We are an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that protects businesses and individuals through effective and secure data and intelligence sharing between the private, public and third sectors. In 2018, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.4 billion of fraud losses.

Cifas data is included in the Office of National Statistics England and Wales Crime Statistics of police recorded crime and works alongside law enforcement agencies in tackling fraud. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently. We also run a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable, offered free of charge to local authorities to protect those under the care of Court Deputies who are unable to access financial products and whose identities may be at risk.

Education

Cifas has developed a series of Anti-Fraud Education lesson plans in conjunction with the PSHE Association, the national body for Personal, Social, Health and Economic education. More information is available here.

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team
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