CIFAS, a fraud prevention service working on behalf of banks, retailers and hundreds of other organisations, says there has been a 54 per cent jump in the misuse of bank accounts so far this year.
The fraudsters target students, the unemployed and others who are stuggling financially - asking permission to use their accounts to handle money and transfer it to banks overseas, in exchange for a fee.
Fraud experts say the funds can come from internet scams, drug sales or people-trafficking.
CIFAS says there were 11,920 examples of account misuse in the four months to April. That's 19% up on the previous 4 months and 54% higher than the same period last year.
Over half of the frauds arose from individuals allowing their accounts to be used to receive money linked to organised crime.
Some people who become involved are unaware that they may be committing an offence and could have their bank account closed.
Crimestoppers has been campaigning on university campuses, telling students, "Don't be a mule!"