More and more young people willing to lend their bank card for cash

25 May 2023

An increasing number of young people are willingly lending their bank cards for cash, earning them the title of 'money mules'. These individuals lend their bank cards or bank accounts, along with their PIN codes, to criminals in exchange for money. The criminals then use these credentials to transfer illegally obtained funds to their own accounts or immediately withdraw cash from ATMs.

Research conducted by Febelfin in collaboration with IndiVille reveals that young people are highly vulnerable to such practices. Febelfin highlights the misconception that young individuals are well-informed about online banking and safety due to their upbringing in the digital society and frequent online presence.

'10 percent of the young people surveyed have been approached to become money mules.'

However, this is not the case. Their limited knowledge of online safety, coupled with their extensive online activity, makes them even more susceptible to cybercriminal activities.

The survey indicates that as many as 16 percent of young people aged between 16 and 30 would lend their bank card and PIN for monetary gain. Among adults surveyed, 11 percent shared their financial information within the six months preceding the survey, expressing discomfort with such actions. However, among young people, the figure rose to 25 percent.

Criminals promise quick and easy money when you provide them with your bank card and PIN. While this claim may be true, it does not negate the fact that acting as a money mule is a criminal offense. Engaging in the transfer or laundering of illegally obtained funds through such means exposes you to severe consequences.

Potential horror scenarios and substantial penalties

Money mules can be held liable and prosecuted for fraud and money laundering, risking tax fines, community service, or even imprisonment. Additionally, banks may refuse money mules another bank account, bank card, and/or loan, limiting their future financial options. Moreover, money mules face the risk of criminals looting their accounts.

These consequences are undoubtedly disastrous, but the situation can worsen significantly. A recent testimony shared by a mother to VRT revealed how her son became a victim of criminals. The boy was kidnapped twice and threatened with a weapon.

Read the testimony (only available in Dutch)

'78 percent of young people do not know what a money mule is.'

Only 22 percent of the surveyed young people were familiar with the term "money mules." The remaining 78 percent were unaware of this phenomenon and lacked sufficient awareness regarding the dangers associated with lending their bank cards and personal information. Shockingly, 1 in 10 young people surveyed believed that they were not committing any offenses.

It actually does concern you too

Think it's not your concern? Think again. Febelfin's research indicates that 10 percent of the young people surveyed have been approached to become money mules themselves. This number decreased to 6 percent by 2021.

Criminals often target their victims near schools, railway stations, and online platforms. Social media channels such as TikTok, where parents are rarely present, are particularly popular among criminals. As a result, this issue remains hidden from parents' awareness. Febelfin's awareness campaign focuses on educating young people and their parents. When parents are aware of the latest forms of online fraud, they can inform their children about them.

Criminals are constantly finding new ways to exploit money mules. In addition to bank account information and PINs, they now demand other personal data, such as identity cards, mobile phone numbers, and addresses

With this article, we support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.