New lessons to counter large rise in young people involved in money-laundering

There has been a significant rise in the number of under-21s acting as money mules, whether wittingly or unwittingly, figures show

Adi Bloom

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The number of young people involved in money-laundering scams has risen by more than a third in the past year, new data reveals.

There has been a 36 per cent increase in the number of people under the age of 21 acting as money mules, the figures show. The term applies to individuals who allow their bank accounts to be used to facilitate the movement of criminal funds.

A new personal, social, health and economics (PSHE) education anti-fraud resource, aimed at secondary pupils, is, therefore, being published, in an effort to prevent this from happening.

The figures, published jointly by the PSHE Association and fraud-prevention organisation Cifas, show that there were 8,474 cases of under-21s acting as money mules in 2017,  2,256 more than in 2016.

'Serious consequences'

Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, said: “Acting as a money mule – unwittingly or not – is a serious crime that not only has consequences for the individual concerned but also for society as a whole.”

The new figures also reveal that the number of identify fraud victims under the age of 21 increased by 30 per cent in 2017 to 2,321 individuals.

The PSHE Association and Cifas are publishing new anti-fraud lesson plans for secondary pupils. The aim is to prevent teenagers from being targeted by online fraudsters or unwittingly engaging in fraudulent activities themselves.

The lesson plans, intended for key stages 3 and 4, will introduce the specific consequences of money-laundering and identity fraud, while also exploring wider issues around online safety.

'Facing a complex world'

Pupils will also be taught how to protect their personal data, as well as how to evaluate critically the reliability of online requests. And they will be encouraged to think about how they might take responsibility for their financial security.

Jonathan Baggaley, chief executive of the PSHE Association, said that online scams were becoming “a ubiquitous concern”, and that it was important that pupils left school “ready to face an increasingly complex world, full of new risks and opportunities”.

The anti-fraud lessons are available here.

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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