Latest Cifas research reveals “sharp rise” in middle-aged money mules

The 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 in 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 among 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. 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 unearthed 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, CEO 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.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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