Warning from HM Revenue and Customs: don’t become a money mule

News | Posted on Wednesday 6 March 2024

We all know that there has been an increase in online scams and fraud targeted at students in recent years. However HMRC are now warning students to make sure they are not inadvertently helping criminals to commit online fraud.

One of the main enablers of fraud are money mules; people who let others use their bank account to transfer money, often keeping a little bit for themselves.


Criminal gangs often target students to become money mules, offering them the chance to make some quick cash in exchange for processing money through their bank account. This money may have been obtained illegally or be used to fund organised crime. If this is the case, money mules could face time in prison for money laundering and end up with a criminal record. 

You may think that someone asking to ‘borrow’ your bank account to transfer money is just doing someone a favour or an easy way to make some extra cash but it could have extremely serious consequences. Around 6 in 10 money mules are under the age of 30, with most of these recruited between the ages of 17 and 24 while attending sixth form, college or university.

How do I protect myself? 

  • Be suspicious of job adverts that offer the chance to earn quick and easy money. Stick to reputable job sites and remember that if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Don’t sign up for any opportunity without undertaking some proper research. For example, Google any prospective employer, do they have an online presence? Are the contact details legitimate? Is it based overseas?
  • Don’t engage with any online posts offering large sums of money.
  • Don’t accept message requests from people you don’t know, and if you receive a message with a link to click from a friend, speak to them in person before you respond.
  • Don’t share bank and personal details with anyone that you don’t know or trust – even among friends or family. If someone asks to ‘borrow’ your bank account, say no.
  • Always remember that if you aren’t sure about the source of the money, it could have come from criminal activity, and you could unwittingly be laundering money and end up with a criminal conviction.

More information on other scams which specifically target students.

What should I do?

If you think someone is recruiting money mules, report them to the police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. 

If you would prefer not to give your details to the police, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously online or by calling 0800 555 111.

If you are a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud via their website or by calling 03001232040. 

To help someone you believe is already involved in this type of crime, visit the National Crime Agency  (NCA) website for advice.