For those who roll their eyes when I explain my job, and say that it’s all a load of government-sanctioned nonsense to appease the do-gooders (yes, I’ve heard all of that), Santander has done some handy research. Big Red (other high street banks are available) mocked up a fake job ad and presented it to 2,000 British adults. The job was for a Financial Transaction Control Analyst at a company called Money Spark, and apparently would involve “receiving and processing incoming cash funds” and “transferring funds to accounts indicated by our managers”. You’re way ahead of me here…
But this is what Santander found:
- 32% of the 2,000 people questioned said that they would definitely apply for the job if they were looking for work
- 27% said they would leave their current job to join Money Spark
- even after being told that it was a front for criminal activity, 7% said they would still accept the job
- although other research has shown that 91% of Britons are familiar with the term “money laundering” (and I attribute most of that to “Breaking Bad” and – recently – “McMafia”), 71% of this group of 2,000 had not heard of the term “money mule”
- when it was explained to them, 69% thought that the maximum prison sentence for doing it would be three years, and a further 25% thought that it would attract only a fine or a warning – so the fourteen years on offer is going to come as a nasty surprise.
This Santander study comes hot on the hooves of statistics published by Cifas – “an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to reduce fraud and related financial crime in the UK” – in November 2017, which showed a worrying increase in the number of young people acting as money mules. Their research revealed a 75% increase in the misuse of bank accounts involving 18 to 24 year olds during the first nine months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. In all, there were 8,652 young money mules in those nine months – that’s a sizeable span (yes, that’s the collective noun for mules).
So roll your eyes all you want: people may think they’re wise to it all, but it seems they are not. I’ve always assumed that they are called money mules because they carry money for other people, but it’s a smarter analogy than I had realised: as well as taking the burden (and this risk) for other people, they are also stubborn (in refusing to believe that they are vulnerable) and easily lured by small temptations.