CHILDREN are being warned that 'if easy money sounds too good to be true, then it probably is'.

As part of the national 'don't be fooled' campaign, Thames Valley Police is urging parents and teachers to talk to youngsters about the 'serious consequences' of becoming a money mule. A money mule uses their bank account to transfer stolen cash on behalf of somebody else. They are paid to do it by criminals who are trying to conceal the profits of a crime.

Police say that often young people don't know its illegal.

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In fact, in 2018 there were 5,819 cases of young people using their bank accounts for money muling, figures from Cifas show.

That's a 27 per cent rise on the year before, and a 73 per cent spike since 2016 – when there were only 3,360 cases.

Parents are told to look out for their children buying expensive new clothes or electronics 'with little explanation' how they bought them.

They are also urged to warn youngsters that if the money is 'easy and too good to be true, then it probably is'.

Detective inspector Duncan Wynn, who is the head of economic crime at Thames Valley Police, said: "We are very pleased to participate in this national campaign aimed at increasing the awareness of this growing crime type and ultimately prevent our young people from being drawn into this with potentially very serious consequences.

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"We are calling on schools, parents, guardians and the wider community to work with us and spread this important message, and to raise any concerns they may have, so action can be taken.

"By reaching out to every 11 to 17-year-old, we are focussing on those most vulnerable to this crime type and hope that, through education, young people have the confidence to resist any attempts made to involve them and to report any concerns for themselves or others.

“This fits within our TVP Stronghold campaign aimed at working in partnership to fight organised crime and exploitation”.

Anybody worried should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.