This Briefing Paper is intended to inform members and stakeholders of issues relating to the Economic Exploitation of U18s.


On 6 July 2021, SCSN attended an online session – hosted by the UK Home Office – concerning the economic exploitation of children and young adults, including their recruitment as money mules.

We heard presentations from several organisations, including the National Economic Crime Centre, North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, City of London Police, Children’s Society and the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS). Data and experiences were drawn solely from England & Wales, but the learning and risks are likely indicative of the same or similar issues here in Scotland. Organised crime target and recruit schoolchildren, the vulnerable and disabled as money mules, to move proceeds of crime through their bank accounts to avoid detection.

Fraud has increased sharply during the pandemic in the last year, particularly involving children and young adults. Social media scams – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram etc. – have risen significantly. Computer viruses, malware, spyware, email phishing, blackmail and grooming and coercion, romance fraud and profile impersonation are attributed to this increase.

Victims are often unaware their actions are criminal. They are asked to move sums of money or purchase items such as watches, computers, phones etc. Money laundering by proxy often becomes a gateway to more serious criminal activity.

Read the Briefing Paper in full here.