TEENAGERS are being warned about the dangers of becoming money mules and laundering the profits from crime.

Essex Police are working with secondary schools, academies and colleges across the county to warn about the scam which sees youngsters conned into sharing their bank details with criminals who transfer cash into them.

They then move the vast majority of the money back out having laundered it leaving a small amount for the child victim.

UK Finance has launched a campaign called Don’t Be Fooled alongside Action Fraud and Cifas - a not for profit fraud prevention service.

Det Chief Insp Stuart Truss of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “Young people are targeted due to their vulnerability. It’s a form of child exploitation.

“Young people should never agree to share their bank details with anyone they do not know and trust.

“This exposes them to far greater risks, in addition to the risk to their financial status.

“It could make them liable to prosecution or further increase the potential for them to be exploited by organised crime groups.

“We are working closely with schools and colleges so that parents are more aware of the dangers posed, ensuring their children are safeguarded from such abuse.”

Statistics show that in 2018, there were 5,819 cases of young people aged 14 to 18 using their bank accounts for money muling in the UK. This is a rise of 20 per cent in 2017 with 4,849 cases.

As well as teens being warned not to give their bank details to people they don’t know, they should also be wary of offers of easy money which seem too good to be true.

Parents should also watch out for youngsters who seemingly now have a surplus of cash or become suddenly more withdrawn.

No contact should be made with anyone suspected of organising money muling - it should be reported to Crimestoppers anonymously instead on 0800 555 111.

Further information and advice is available at moneymules.co.uk.