Money mule awareness

Increasingly, fraud networks are recruiting unsuspecting victims to receive and transfer money from other victims. Being used as a money mule victimizes you, victimizes others and can get you tied into a money laundering scheme and could result in facing criminal charges.

What is a money mule?

A money mule is a person who's recruited by fraudsters to serve as a middle person to transfer stolen money. This is process is known as money laundering, which is a crime. The money mule may, or may, not know that they're a pawn in a larger network. When a mule moves money, it becomes harder to identify the fraudsters from the victims.

They often transfer the money using:

Typically, mules receive a small percentage of the money transferred. Fraudsters may disguise these funds as:

Examples of money mule traps

The following scams are examples of how fraudsters can trick victims into becoming a money mule:

Job scam example
  • Victims are approached by suspects, most commonly after posting their resume on a website
  • The suspect may offer a position such as "payment processor", "financial officer" and "administrative assistant" among others
  • Suspects will advise that your job duties include accepting payments from clients into your personal account, and then transferring it to an account in a different country
  • In most cases, victims will then be asked to keep a small percentage of the payment and send the remaining amount via virtual currencies
Prize scam example
  • Victims are told that they are the winner of a lottery or sweepstakes
  • They are then sent "advance payments" on their winnings, then asked to forward it to a "financial office" to cover fees or taxes
Romance scam example
  • A victim meets someone online and begins a relationship with them
  • The suspect will gain the trust and affection of the victims over a lengthy period of time (months)
  • The suspect will convince the victims they are an investor, engineer, in the military or someone prestigious
  • Often, the suspect will provide victims with a cell phone to communicate with them
  • The suspect will request that the victims open a bank account and to send the suspect a bank card

In these examples, the payments received are often from other victims and by transferring these funds to criminals you become a money mule.

How to protect yourself

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