One in three Britons are likely to apply for work as a money mule, according to a survey by Santander which conducted an experiment using a bogus job advert.
Money launderers usually use place job adverts to hook individuals to work as money mules for them. Once connected, they proceed to ask them to use their bank account to launder their dirty cash.
The Santander’s experiment presented 2,000 British adults with a falsified job description to work at a fictitious company called Money Spark as a ‘Financial Transaction Control Analyst’.
Details of the role included ‘receiving and processing of incoming cash funds’ and; ‘transferring of funds to accounts indicated by our managers’.
While some people were suspicious of the description of the role and spotted the tell-tale spelling mistakes and bogus link in the ad, one in three (32 %) said they would definitely apply for the job if they were looking for work, the bank found.
In addition, one in four (27%) said they would leave their current job to join the Money Spark Company.
Upon learning the job was a front for criminal activity, 7% said they would still accept the job anyway. Only 15% correctly spotted the role was for a money mule, said Santander.
Chris Ainsley, Santander UK head of fraud strategy, said: “Criminals often target vulnerable people, such as those desperate for a job, and our research illustrates how easily some people can be tricked into falling victim.”
“We are seeing a rise in the number of fake job ads such as the one used in our experiment and raising awareness of the issue is key to preventing people unwittingly getting involved and ultimately facing life changing consequences for their actions.”
In November last year, police forces across Europe carried out a join operation targeting the money mule crisis. They made several arrests and identified 580 money mules.
The same month, UK anti-fraud groups warned that there has been a stark leap in the number of 18-24 year olds acting as money mules, leaving many to face possible blacklisting by banks.
According to the groups statistics, there has been a 75 per cent increase in the misuse of bank accounts involving this age bracket during the first nine months of 2017, compared to the same period last year.