The dangers of being a ‘money mule’

If you’re offered the chance to make some easy money during the pandemic, what should you do? Money Clinic was emailed by 19-year-old student Henry who, along with many of his friends, had been contacted on Snapchat and Instagram and asked: ‘Do you want to make money working from home?’ To earn a few hundred pounds, students are being asked to open bank accounts, then receive and transfer money. This may sound innocuous. But as presenter Claer Barrett reveals, acting as a ‘money mule’ is a criminal offence, and could involve money laundering. Reformed fraudster Tony Sales and anti-fraud expert Mike Nathan explain how it works and how to stay safe online. 

If you would like to talk to Claer for a future episode, please email the Money Clinic team at with a short description of your dilemma, and how you would like us to help. Follow Claer on Twitter and Instagram @Claerb and read her weekly Serious Money column in the FT Money section of the FT Weekend newspaper.

Further reading:

-If you have been a victim of cyber crime, or want to report a scam attempt, here are the agencies to contact, depending on where you’re based, in the UK, the US or Europe 

-Claer’s FT column this week goes into much greater detail about money muling, and how parents can spot the signs

-Claer won a Wincott Award for this 2018 column exposing “Modern Day Bank Robbery”, which highlights the techniques criminals use to steal money from the unwary online

-You can also read Claer’s column: Don’t fall for these 10 financial scams 

-And Tony Sales, the reformed criminal we heard from on today’s show, will shortly be releasing his autobiography - The Big Con: How I stole £30m and got away with it, published by Mirror Books


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