Being used as a "money mule" for money laundering

University students have been increasingly targeted by criminals to facilitate their illegal money laundering operations.


Those struggling with financial pressures could be vulnerable to money laundering frauds and targeted as ‘money mules’. A money mule is someone who allows criminals or fraudsters to ‘launder’ (or transfer) money through their bank account in return for cash.

If you become a money mule your bank account may be closed or frozen and you may be drawn into criminal activity without realising it. You could even be charged with a criminal offence and face a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

How you can stay protected:

  • Be careful of emails or messages from anyone offering you cash or payments in return for accepting payments into your bank account
  • Do not share your bank details with anyone that you don’t know and trust – particularly if it’s a stranger who has contacted you by email or social media
  • Be vigilant - look out for any unusual activity in your bank account (for example, if you see that money has been deposited into your account and then removed)
  • Be aware that the consequences of becoming a ‘money mule’ can be serious

If you think that your bank account may have been misused, or that you have become involved in a fraud or money laundering activity, talk directly with your bank about this. Alternatively you could report the issue to Action Fraud.

Visit UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCIA) for guidance about frauds and scams.