We totally get that you’re pretty skint and you’re sick of asking your mum for a fiver. You’re tired of routing through the reduced aisle in Tesco and you’re bored of passing up the opportunity to go for a pint. Student life is hard.
Now, more than ever, you need to be careful about who you take money from, and who you do favours for. Some favours are okay; if your best mate Bob asks you to lend him £10 to take his new girlfriend to the cinema/ the pub/ Nandos then by all means, help a guy out (though it might be worth telling Bob that £10 isn’t going to get him very far).
But if someone asks you to give them access to your account or account details and/or they ask to deposit money into your account which will then be transferred elsewhere, this, my friend, is a criminal offence known as money laundering.
Okay, what’s money laundering, though?
It is the process of taking dirty money and making it clean. So, if someone makes £1000 from dealing drugs, they then put this ‘dirty’ cash into an account, transfer it to another account and it becomes ‘clean’. By clean, we mean that they have made it more difficult for the police to track the source of their money and have in essence attempted to legitimise it.
Recently, there has been a surge in criminals persuading students and young people to do this with the promise of a paid incentive. I mean, we get it, it sounds pretty chill doesn’t it? Some rando on Facebook says he will give you £50 to simply let him move money in and out of your bank account. Wow I mean, you can literally earn some extra cash without even pausing Netflix, it sounds too good to be true…
Ah, mate, that’s because it is... When you’re caught, which you probably will be, you could face criminal charges. If that doesn’t put you off, these criminal charges carry a maximum sentence of 14 years- I mean, that’s probably more than half of the entire time you’ve been alive, right?
“But I didn’t know that’s what it was for, I thought it was totally legit!”
This won’t stand up in court I’m afraid. And being involved in money laundering will also affect your credit score.
“Who gives a shit about credit scores? I’m in my first year of uni OMG.”
You will give a shit in 10 years time, when you’re trying to get a mortgage for a house and you can’t (and seriously do you know how hard it already is to get a house these days?).
On top of that, you’re basically being initiated into organised crime and making yourself vulnerable to further ‘favours’. The money you’re helping these people transfer is coming from really serious crimes making you, essentially, complicit in some really serious shit.
And to be clear, participating in money laundering is not classed as employment either and it’s not a better option than getting a job. If your mum/ girlfriend/ grandad asks you where you’ve got that extra cash from and you’re too ashamed to say where, take this as an indicator that what you’re doing is wrong.
So here are some quick tips to avoid it:
- NEVER give ANYONE access to your bank account or account details.
- If someone (especially somebody you don’t know or somebody who can’t give a legitimate reason for doing so) offers you money to gain access to your account… say no.
- If you think you are being targeted in this way, and especially if someone threatens you with violence, call the police.
- You can also call this number and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Don’t be that guy who screws himself over for the sake of £50. It’s not worth it.