"I found out that around £10,000 went into my account."
Fraudsters are paying struggling London students for their bank account details, in order to commit fraud. City of London Police reported that gangs are offering hundreds of pounds to international students so they can launder money and use students as “money mules”.
An undercover investigation found that the students, some of whom were willing to hand out their details in exchange for some cash, were often becoming targeted themselves and getting their bank details stolen.
“Their [‘money mules’] role is to collectively move monies around, hopefully under the radar, so a money mule will open a bank account, maybe pay in or have paid into their account a few thousand pounds,” says Detective Inspector Craig Mullish, from the City police’s money laundering unit.
With bank accounts being hijacked, Amrit from Delhi told his story to why he gave away his bank details.
“A fellow student told me that he could give me £500 if I gave him my banking details, like account number, sort code, everything. And so I did.”
The expense of living in London was a shock to the Maths student and he became desperate.
“I’m an international student here. When I first arrived I had only £200 in my wallet. I did not realise living in London would be so costly.
“I knew it was wrong and that he would probably use my account to do something bad but at that time I just needed the money.”
19-year-old Tarun Gupta, said he became suspicious when a mystery £10,000 showed up in his bank account. The student had his details stolen and became an easy money mule victim.
“I found out that around £10,000 or so went into my Nationwide account so I called them up straight away.” After further investigation, they found that a total of £50,000 had been illegally transferred through his accounts in less than 24 hours.
He speaks on BBC’s Inside Out about how he is being punished for all this, without actually doing anything himself.
Gupta says: “Following the investigation the bank placed a fraud mark on my account, and I haven’t been able to apply for bank accounts, which in turn means I haven’t been able to apply for jobs.
“I haven’t done anything wrong and I am the one who is being punished.”
Detective Inspector Mullish gives insight to the process: “Lured by the promise of big cash pay-offs, it seems there is no shortage of international students in London who are willing to make their bank accounts available to fraudsters.”
“But other students, who have no criminal connections whatsoever, are also finding themselves drawn into the illicit business of money laundering. Their bank accounts are literally being hijacked.”
Inside Out’s investigation also finds that bank employees are involved in providing information to organised crime groups which can account for the reason to why innocent people are targeted.