SCOTTISH comedian Paul Black is partnering with NatWest for a second time to raise awareness of money muling – an activity where targets are recruited to channel illicit funds through their personal bank accounts.
Following a successful run of sell-out shows at this year’s Fringe, Paul will be out and about on the streets of Edinburgh on Wednesday 24th August. Once again donning the persona of the “money mule man”, the award-winning comic will be approaching festival goers to look after money. If they simply say no, they will be rewarded with a £100 cash prize, while those who say yes will go home empty handed.
Earlier in the year Paul toured Scotland’s cities to raise awareness of money muling and support people in being vigilant about the ways criminals might try and exploit them by making use of their bank account.
Instances of money muling increased dramatically during the pandemic and over 17,000 suspected cases involving 21- to 30-year-olds were recorded in 2020 according to Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention body. Rising social media usage during lockdown is thought to be linked to the spike, with criminals using apps such as Snapchat and Instagram to recruit targets.
Money muling often involves criminals recruiting young people to use their bank accounts to move cash which has been illegally stolen or transferred from another account.
Despite the upsurge in money muling, many young people are unaware of the consequences of allowing criminals access to their accounts – with those caught facing up to a fourteen-year prison sentence and a lifetime ban from holding a bank account.
Cifas research has found that the number of 14–18-year-olds charged with money muling offenses to have risen by 73% since 2020.
Commenting on the campaign, Paul Black said: “I hadn’t heard of money muling until I got involved in the campaign earlier in the year, but that’s the problem – people are letting criminals channel money through their bank accounts with no idea that what they’re doing is actually against the law. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
“Edinburgh has such a great atmosphere during the Fringe, and I’ll be out and about to see if tourists and residents alike are clued up on money muling and find out who’s smart enough to win 100 quid!”
A NatWest spokesperson, said: “The message is simple: if approached to be a money mule, always say no. The consequences of becoming involved in this type of crime are severe, your bank account will be closed down and you could end up in prison.”