New campaign launched warning young people about money laundering
7th September 2020
A new campaign has been launched in West Yorkshire to warn young people about the dangers of money laundering.
So-called ‘squaring’ or ‘money muling’ is where criminals involved in other crimes such as grooming, drug dealing, human trafficking and county lines crime – target people to launder their ill-gotten gains.
They usually target young people – getting them to hide their cash in their bank account - with a promise of rewards including a cut of the cash or expensive goods.
It is often sold to the unsuspecting victim as “quick and easy cash” for no risk.
But that “quick and easy” money or new pair of designer trainers come with a catch.
Hiding criminal assets is a crime (money laundering) and carries with it a potential sentence of up to 14 years.
Those caught up with it also risk being stopped from ever being allowed a bank account or mobile phone contract.
It is not a ‘victimless crime’.
So West Yorkshire Police (through Programme Precision), the Office of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), the charity Crimestoppers and the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership are working together to warn young people of the dangers involved.
Programme Precision is the Force’s response to serious and organised crime and sees partners work together to tackle it.
Ramona Senior, Head of the Economic Crime Unit for West Yorkshire Police, said: "A friend or someone you chat to online may ask you to look after some money for them in your account.
“They will say there is nothing wrong in doing it but that you could get some money for doing it or a brand new shirt / new trainers.
“Or you might want to ‘earn’ a bit of extra money for your parents who might be struggling with money.
“It may seem like quick and easy money with no risk – but the reality is very different.
“You are not only committing a very serious crime but you are also helping drug dealers and other hardened criminals to profit at your expense. You are the one who is being put at risk.
“Ask yourself – if storing money in your account for someone else is quick, easy and risk free then why are they asking you to do it rather than have the money themselves?"
Adverts have been placed across key social media sites to help spread the word.
Social media graphics have also been produced which are being released across the Force and partner organisations social media accounts.
The money for the adverts has come from a grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Communities Fund, which is funded by the ill-gotten gains being taken from criminals through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: “Safeguarding vulnerable people is a key outcome in the Police and Crime Plan so I am pleased to be able to support this important partnership initiative with a grant from my Safer Communities Fund.
“The aim of the campaign is to prevent and stop young people from being exploited by criminal gangs who care not for the lasting harm they cause to others.
“We would ask for everyone’s help in raising awareness of the campaign to help protect young people who may be targeted in this way, as well as reducing the opportunity for criminals to hide and transfer ill-gotten monies and assets.”
If you are worried that you have been a victim of squaring, you should contact the police or partners, who can help you.
If you are worried you should also contact your bank who have specialist teams who can provide assistance.
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, the chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership said: “We’re pleased to work with our partners to deliver a campaign across West Yorkshire on the risks of money laundering. It is important that young people can recognise what money laundering is and the impact it can have on their futures.”
Gemma Gibbs, Regional Manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “We know it can be difficult to speak directly to the authorities, especially if your concerns are about people you know. But if you know anyone who may be involved in money laundering, it is best to report it, your information could help victims of serious crime. Please remember that if you don’t want to reveal your identity, you can tell our charity what you know whilst staying 100% anonymous. Always. Call our 24/7 UK Contact Centre on freephone 0800 555 111 or use our simple and secure anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.”
See www.westyorkshire.police.uk/squaring for more information.