Child Financial Exploitation

What is Child Financial Exploitation ?

Child Financial Exploitation (CFE) is the act of taking advantage of a child's financial resources for personal gain, often through deceit, coercion, or manipulation.

This form of exploitation can have serious consequences for a child, including financial hardship, damaged credit, emotional distress, and disrupted relationships with family and peers.

Laundering the proceeds of crime is a criminal offence under The Proceeds of Crime Act (2002) and carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Ways in which a child can be financially exploited

Perpetrators can use online platforms such as online gaming networks or social media to exploit the vulnerability, interests and needs of children. This can include:

Online exploitation: With the widespread use of online gaming and social media, children are increasingly vulnerable to online financial exploitation. This can include cyberbullying, peer-to-peer financial scams, or grooming by individuals seeking to exploit children for financial gain. Find out more

Identity theft: Perpetrators may steal a child's identity to open lines of credit, apply for loans, or make purchases, often without the child or their parents' knowledge. Children typically have clean credit histories and their identities can be attractive targets for perpetrators.

Fraudulent schemes: Children may be targeted by scams, such as fake phishing emails, or deceptive online advertisements promising rewards or prizes. These schemes aim to trick children into providing personal or financial information or making unauthorised purchases.

Financial abuse by caregivers: In some cases, caregivers may exploit a child's financial resources for their own benefit. This could involve misusing funds intended for the child's education, pocketing money received from child support or government benefits, or coercing the child into providing financial support.

Child labour exploitation: Children may be forced or coerced into working in exploitative conditions, often without fair compensation or adequate protections. This can include situations where children are made to work long hours for little pay, denied access to education or healthcare, or subjected to physical or emotional abuse. Find out more

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Spotting the signs of CFE

Concerning activity that may be a sign a child is being financially exploited can include:

  • Paying small amounts frequently
  • More activity than you would expect to see on a child’s gaming account or bank account
  • Cash deposits or transfers from unknown sources on a child's bank account
  • Unaccounted for loot boxes on a child's gaming account
  • Transport or accommodation transactions on a child's bank account

A child may display the following signs of financial exploitation:

  • Feeling anxious, frightened, angry, showing signs of emotional distress, or displaying other behaviours that are of concern
  • Responding aggressively when encouraged to discuss finances
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Preventing CFE

How to recognise CFE and what to look out for.

  • Job adverts – Often criminals will share a job advert on social media that may include phrases like ‘easy money’ or ‘no experience necessary’. Some of these adverts may also be accompanied by images of lots of cash. If the advert sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.
  • Lots of spelling errors - A genuine job advert will rarely have spelling errors, so lots of spelling mistakes can also be a sign this is not legitimate.
  • Messages through social media – Private messages asking if someone wants to make quick cash or easy money. If someone suspects an account on social media is acting suspiciously, they can report it and block that account.
  • Asking to share bank details – information about your PIN should not be shared.

Read more at Fearless, from Crmestoppers here

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Reducing Harm

Keeping open lines of communication is essential to help a child feel safe and practitioners should be aware that there could be an overlap with other types of exploitation. A child may be both sexually, criminally and financially exploited simultaneously.

Next steps to consider
  • What to do if you suspect CFE?
    Show details
    • CONTACT: West Yorkshire Police
    • Refer: NRM
    • Use: Screening Tool
    • use: Other reporting tools:
    Consider the following:
      West Yorkshire Police

      If a child is in immediate danger, call 999.

      For guidance and support on what to do if you suspect CSE you can call 101.

      If you have information that you want to share with the police you can do so by submitting it via the Partnership Intelligence Portal (PIP)
      Children Vulnerable to Exploitation (CVE) Screening Tool

      Coming soon
      Integrated Front Door (IDF)

      Visit the WSCP website
      worried about a child page for all information relating to the IFD and MASH team
    • Refer
      National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

      Report any incidents of Modern slavery

      Members of the public should call the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 or 
      report it online.
    • Use
      LADO: Allegations against a professional

      Refer to the WSCP
      LADO one minute guide for more information

    • use
      Other reporting tools:

      Call IVision (formally PACE) on 0113 240 3040
      Text the British Transport Police on 61016
      Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
      Call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000
      Call the Modern Slavery Helpline 0800 012 1700 or fill in their 
      online form.
      Call the specific bank to report a crime


One Minute Guide
  • Child Financial Exploitation
    Show details
    Child Financial Exploitation is on the increase and is more common than you think. Children are being groomed by perpetrators into opening bank accounts and launder money. Read more here

    To view the Child Exploitation series of One Minute Guides visit our Child Exploitation Learning and Development page and read more about online, child criminal, child trafficking, modern slavery and financial exploitation.

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