YOUNG people across Wharfedale are being warned about the dangers of money laundering.

The message has been issued by West Yorkshire Police as part of a new force-wide campaign.

Criminals involved in offences such as grooming, drug dealing and human trafficking may hide their cash in the bank accounts of young people, who are enticed by the offer of money or expensive goods.

Ramona Senior – head of the economic crime unit at West Yorkshire Police, which is working with partner organisations on the campaign – is urging young people to be on their guard.

“A friend or someone you chat to online may ask you to look after some money for them in your account,” she said.

“They will say there is nothing wrong in doing it and that you could get some money or a brand new shirt or pair of trainers.

“Or you may want to ‘earn’ a bit of extra money for your parents, who might be struggling financially.

“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?

“If you are worried that you have been a victim of so-called ‘squaring’, you should contact the police or partners, who can help you.

“You should also contact your bank, which has specialist teams that can provide assistance.”

Adverts, funded through a grant from the West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner’s Safer Communities Fund, have been placed across social media sites to help raise awareness.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the police and crime commissioner, 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.

“The aim of the campaign is to prevent 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.”

Advice to young people includes don’t give your bank account details to anyone ­– unless you know and trust them – and be wary of job offers where all interactions and transactions will be done online. Visit