The British government have started monitoring international students bank and social media accounts in the United Kingdom, in a renewed battle against money laundering.
Led by UK’s National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), it followed recent revelations that the overseas students knowingly or unknowingly were being targeted by and used as ‘money mules’ to launder funds through UK bank accounts.
NECC says on its twitter handle @NCA_UK, that investigation had shown the tendency for international students to earn quick money by allowing someone to use their bank accounts to move money, especially in the weeks preceding Christmas.
In a UK law enforcement operations coordinated by the National Economic Crime Centre, earlier this year, about 95 bank accounts belonging to international students contained more than 3 million pounds.
“Letting someone use your bank account to move money is money laundering is the message to students in the weeks before Christmas when it might seem an easy way to earn money.
“The NECC is now targeting students through social media over the next week as they head back home for the Christmas break.
“Earlier this year, 95 bank accounts – containing more than £3 million – were frozen by UK law enforcement coordinated by the National Economic Crime Centre.
“To date approximately £1 million of this money has been forfeited following court hearings.
“The majority of the accounts frozen belonged to international students studying in the UK.
Banks were also empowered to track money laundering and report to the police for criminal proceedings to commence according to NECC head of operations Matt Bradford.
Allowing someone to use your bank account for a cut may seem like an easy way to earn some money over Christmas and New Year but it has consequences.
“Banks have systems to identify this activity, they will report to the police or take their own action.
“Although these messages are targeted towards students, their parents and university staff – it is important to remember anyone can become involved in this. Acting as a money mule is money laundering, a crime, and can happen with or without the account holder’s knowledge.
“This can lead to problems getting credit, a bank account, a phone contract, and at worst a criminal record which could impact on the career students are working so hard to achieve,” Bradford said.
On his part, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, Katy Worobec warned that on no account should one release one’s bank account to anyone because one may fall victim of being a money mule.
“No matter what age you are, we urge you not to give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them. Letting your bank account be used to transfer money given to you by someone else makes you a money mule and when you’re caught your bank account will be closed.
“The banking industry works closely with law enforcement to identify, arrest and charge those criminal gangs responsible for recruiting money mules and to raise awareness amongst susceptible groups,” Worobec said.