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Youth Issues


Answer

A 'money mule' is someone who transfers stolen money on behalf of criminals through their own bank account.

Criminals will contact a person, either on the internet (via social media, a fake job advertisement) or in person, and offer to pay them for use of their bank account in order to receive stolen money and transfer it to another account.

The majority of the money being transferred is stolen money and is used to fund further criminal activity such as terrorism and fraud.

Criminals usually target vulnerable people who are in financial difficulties themselves and see being a mule as an opportunity to make money.

Once a person has transferred the money successfully there is a high chance that the criminals will want to repeat the process and may use intimidation if someone does not comply.

It is a criminal offence to let someone use your bank account for this activity and you could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years if caught. You could also have your account closed and find it difficult to access credit.

If someone asks you to use your bank account, report it to your local police force. Please see the link in Related Information for contact details.

Please also see the related topic, County Lines, in Related Information.


Answer

'County lines' is a term used to describe networks of gangs and organised crime groups, who use children, young people and vulnerable adults to carry out illegal activity on their behalf.

This criminal exploitation is known as 'county lines' as young children travel across counties and use dedicated mobile phone 'lines' to supply drugs.

As well as the storage and supply of drugs, gangs also use children for the movement of cash proceeds (money mules) and to secure the use of dwellings (commonly referred to as 'cuckooing').

Criminal gangs groom children into trafficking their drugs for them with promises of money, friendship and status. Once they've been drawn in, children are often controlled using threats, violence and sexual abuse. These children can then become trapped in criminal exploitation and feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the criminals want.

What are signs of criminal exploitation and county lines?

  • Unexplained absences from school, college, training or work.
  • Going missing from home, staying out late and travelling for unexplained reasons.
  • In a relationship or hanging out with someone older than them.
  • Being angry, aggressive or violent.
  • Being isolated or withdrawn.
  • Having unexplained money and buying new things.
  • Wearing clothes or accessories in gang colours or getting tattoos.
  • Using new slang words.
  • Spending more time on social media and being secretive about time online.
  • Unexplained injuries.
  • Carrying weapons.
  • Making more calls or sending more texts, possibly on a new phone or phones.
  • Taking drugs / abusing alcohol.
  • Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places.

The police work collaboratively with other forces and regional organised crime units to build intelligence, tackle the demand for drugs, ensure disruption of county lines activity, protect the vulnerable and carry out enforcement activity.

What to do if you have concerns

  • If you have information you wish to share with the police, contact your local police force.
  • If you believe a young person you know could be in immediate danger, call 999.
  • If you are a young person who is worried about your involvement, or a friend's involvement in county lines, it is a good option to speak to a family member or trusted adult about your concerns.


Answer

Depending on the exact nature of the information and how they have posted it (Have they sent the information to someone else? Have they posted it via their own account? Who has access to the information?), an offence may have been committed.

The offence of harassment may apply. For harassment to be committed, there must be a 'course of conduct' (i.e. two or more related occurrences). The information does not necessarily have to be violent in nature, but must be oppressive and need to have caused some alarm or distress. See Q497 for further information regarding this offence.

If the information is indecent, grossly offensive, obscene or threatening/menacing, then an offence relating to 'malicious communications' may have been committed. This offence does not require more than one incident. You can report any of these offences to your local policing team and they will then investigate and take appropriate action.

If the information posted does not fall under either of the above offences, then you may wish to consider whether the person has committed 'libel' (defamation of character - publishing a false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation). If this is the case, you would need to take action through the civil courts as this would be a civil matter and the police do not have any jurisdiction to assist with this. You should seek legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau and/or a solicitor before taking any action regarding this. Please see related information to find your local bureau.

In the first instance, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the information, you may wish to initially make a report to Facebook/Twitter (before contacting the police/Citizens Advice/a solicitor), as these sites have processes in place for such situations, and may be able to simply remove the content and/or close down the person's account.

Contact your local police force

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