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‘Money mules’ more likely to be aged under 30

8 December 2016
  • New Cifas data reveals that 54% of all ‘Misuse of Facility’ frauds are committed by young people
  • Bank Accounts, Communications and Online Retail accounts are misused the most
  • In the run up to Christmas Cifas warns young people not to be tempted to commit fraud or fall for ‘too good to be true’ scams

Today, Thursday 8 December 2016, Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing that in the first nine months of 2016, young people committed 39,362 misuse of facility frauds. This compares to 27,861 committed by 31-50 year olds who represent 38% of this type of fraud. For both age groups there has been an increase compared to 2015 with the under 30 figure increasing by 948 cases and the older age group increasing by 1,593.

‘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.

Other examples include selling your bank account, knowingly making a payment that will bounce, or opening credit card, retail accounts or mobile phone contracts where you have no intention of honouring the credit agreements. 

Simon Dukes, Cifas, Chief Executive said:
“Our figures show that young people are disproportionately at risk of this type of fraud. With Christmas only a few weeks away we want to warn young people, in particular students, to be wary of anyone approaching them in the student union or elsewhere with promises of cash for the use of their bank account.

“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.”

Commander Chris Greany, City of London Police and National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime said:
“Criminals use money mules in an attempt to conceal or launder the money they have stolen from victims whose lives have often been irreparably damaged.  

“Be under no illusion, by allowing criminals to use your bank account you are assisting them in their crime and running the risk of getting a criminal record that could greatly harm your future."

The real consequences of committing ‘Misuse of Facility’ fraud includes the risk of a conviction for money laundering, which carries a  maximum prison term of 14 years, additionally it could affect future applications for a mortgage, credit cards, mobile phones and student loans. 


Notes to editors

Behaviours that put you at risk of becoming a money mule

  • Responding to job adverts, or social media posts that promise large amounts of money for very little work. 
  • Failing to research a potential employer, particularly one based overseas, before handing over your personal or financial details to them.
  • Allowing an employer, or someone you don’t know and trust, to use your bank account to transfer money.

How to protect yourself

  • No legitimate company will ever ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Don’t accept any job offers that ask you to do this. 
  • Be especially wary of job offers from people or companies overseas as it will be harder for you to find out if they really are legitimate.
  • Never give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust.

Individuals committing misuse of facility by age

Age group

Individuals in Q1-Q3 2015

Individuals in Q1-Q3 2016


Under 21




















Over 60









Please note that not all cases are recorded with date of birth details and therefore the actual total of misuse of facility cases (included in the above table) is higher.

We compile our data from fraud cases that have been recorded on the National Fraud Database by 261 organisations. Our members only record confirmed frauds to our databases – i.e. where there is sufficient and clear evidence that a fraud has taken place.

For the first time Cifas has launched our quarterly stats through an interactive regional map on our website, figures will be updated every quarter.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Samee
T: +44 (0)20 3004 3609

About Cifas

Cifas aims to make the UK a safer place to do business, by enabling organisations in every sector to prevent fraud and protect the public through the sharing of confirmed fraud data.

Cifas is a not-for-profit organisation and has over 360 members spanning the public and private sectors. In 2015 alone, Cifas members prevented over £1.1 billion of avoidable fraud losses by using Cifas databases. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently, for instance after a burglary.

In 2014, Cifas launched a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable. This service is 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.


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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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