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School-gate scams: Barclays declares fightback

 Barclays launches new mission to educate and protect young people from becoming victims of financial scams

  • Young money mule victims surge 50 per cent in 12 months
  • LifeSkills created with Barclays launches new measures to help young people stay safe

In response to an explosion of scams targeting school children and students and as part of its major UK-wide drive to increase the public’s awareness of financial fraud risks, Barclays is today launching new educational resources for 11-24 year olds to teach them of the dangers of fraud and scams and help them know how to stay safe.

According to UK fraud prevention service Cifas, in the first half of the year there were 17,040 instances of ‘misuse of facilities’ fraud, where an account is misused by the genuine account holder for profit. 4,222 of these account holders were under 21 – up from 2,143 a year ago.

In a scam known as ‘deets and squares’ (deets is slang for bank details and a square is a credit or debit card), young people are becoming ‘money mules’ by handing over their bank details to fraudsters in exchange for money, making them accessories to the fraudsters’ crime.  

For many young people, the prospect of getting some extra cash simply by allowing someone to use their bank account for a money transfer sounds too tempting to resist. What could be the harm?

Of course, the harm is very real – they risk a prison sentence, the loss of banking facilities, a ruined credit history and financial difficulties lasting well into adulthood.

Barclays is responding to this new threat by expanding its LifeSkills programme - from today, 83 per cent of secondary schools and 65 per cent of colleges across the UK who have signed up to LifeSkills will have access to new training, which includes lesson materials and online tools to help young people understand when they are being targeted by fraudsters and how to avoid being duped into sharing their bank details. The resources also include materials covering how to deal with a range of financial dilemmas and the broad financial risks that young people may face.

Launching the fraud and scams resources at a LifeSkills session at the City of Bristol College, Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK said: “Crooks are using ever more sophisticated tactics to trick youngsters into handing over their bank details. It’s alarming that our young people are being increasingly targeted in schools and colleges, and aren’t aware of the dangers and implications of this crime. Young people need to be wary of anyone approaching them with the promise of cash for the use of their bank account. Through our LifeSkills programme, we want to help raise awareness amongst young people of the risks they face and give them with the tools to stay safe.”

With more than 4.5 million young people having already participated in LifeSkills, it is hoped that these new resources will help scores of young people up and down the country become more digitally safe. Educators across the UK can access more than 60 hours of lesson plans, tools and resources at   

As young people start back at school this September, parents can also help prevent their children falling victim to this fast developing scam by following these top tips:

  1. Go through their bank statements with them regularly. Can they account for every transaction?
  2. Make sure they know never to give anyone else their online PIN, passcode or password, even to someone claiming to be from the police or their bank
  3. If they unexpectedly come home with new clothes, phones or other items they can’t account for, ask where the money came from
  4. Explain that letting someone else use your bank account, however plausible their reasons sound, is a potentially serious criminal offence that could damage their financial future – it could mean that they won’t be able to open a new bank account or get credit, a mortgage, or even a mobile phone contract
  5. Teach them this simple rule of thumb about offers of easy money: if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is
Notes to editors

The LifeSkills created with Barclays fraud and scams resources were launched today at City of Bristol College, College Green Centre, St George’s Road, Bristol. Ashok Vaswani and Barclays LifeSkills volunteers partnered with LifeSkills charity partner Transformation Trust to deliver the session.

About LifeSkills created with Barclays

Barclays is passionate and committed to supporting the creation of a strong talent pipeline of young people moving into the labour market who can achieve their aspirations, supporting organisations throughout the UK. By doing this we will help to address the significant societal issue of the skills gap and youth employment challenge, create a better future for young people, supporting our economy and society.

The motivation behind the LifeSkills programme is to inspire millions of young people and equip them with the key skills to move forward into the 21st century work place.  LifeSkills brings together educators, businesses, young people and parents to achieve this, as increasingly young people need to leave education not only with appropriate academic results but with the skills that we know businesses need now and in the future as technology reshapes our working world.

Educators, including schools, colleges, universities, charities and youth groups, are provided with more than 60 hours of free curriculum linked employability resources, through videos, quick fire activities, interactive tools and full lesson plans to teach young people, as well as dozens of interactive tools for young people to learn in their own time or in conjunction with their parents through our dedicated parents section. 

The programme focuses on three core modules; work skills, people skills and money skills.  Teaching skills such as CV writing, interview skills, networking, problem solving, creativity, resilience, communication and managing online reputation.

LifeSkills also provides free support to UK businesses to help improve access to work experience opportunities – giving young people the key skills and experience they need.

Already LifeSkills is raising the aspirations of young people as they feel more confident about the future and we are seeing evidence that young people are using what they have learnt to secure employment and manage their finances more effectively. More than 4.5 million young people have already participated in the programme.

LifeSkills is an integral part of Barclays Shared Growth Ambition, enhancing access to employment in the community where we live and work. 

About Barclays

Barclays is a transatlantic consumer, corporate and investment bank offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.

With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 85,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

For further information about Barclays, please visit our website .