December 22, 2020
Tagged As: Personal
The phrase “money mule” doesn’t refer to a donkey strapped with cash (unfortunately). It’s a person who, wittingly or unwittingly, is receiving or moving money gained from fraud. Some money mules know they’ve been recruited to assist criminal activity – but many are ordinary people who don’t realize their activity is benefitting fraudsters.
Here’s how money mule schemes work: a fraudster steals money from a victim, and puts up a job advertisement or social media post promising easy money for little effort. Sometimes, criminals will use dating sites or befriend people online and get them to receive or transfer money, or tell them they’ve won a sweepstakes. They’ll then use the people who sign up to move stolen cash in an effort to make it harder to trace. Although the stories money mules are told vary by scheme, fraudsters will ask that the person receive money from people they do not know and forward the money on. Never agree to move money from someone you’ve never met in person.
Knowingly moving money for illegal activities can lead to serious consequences – including criminal charges. Make sure to think twice before you:
- Open a bank account at someone else’s direction
- Give someone access to your bank account or debit card
- Move money at someone else’s direction
- Allow money from people you don’t know to be deposited into your account
- Take a job that promises easy money and involves sending or receiving money or packages
- Purchase virtual currency or gift cards on someone else's behalf
- Agree to receive or forward packages, especially those containing money or merchandise
For more information on money mule schemes, visit the U.S. Department of Justice website.