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June 09, 2020

Don't Become a Money Mule

While money mule scams are not uncommon, they have become even more popular with criminals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowledge is one of the best ways to arm yourself against fraudsters. Continue reading to learn more about money mules and how to spot this type of scam before you become a victim yourself.

What is a money mule?

According to the FBI, a money mule is someone who facilitates the transfer of illegally acquired money at the direction or on behalf of another person. Most money mules are unwitting participants and do not realize they’re laundering money. Unfortunately, most mules are also unaware that they’re probably taking part in a much larger scam involving drug or human trafficking, terrorism, and other nefarious crimes.

How does the scam work?

You might be wondering how someone can unknowingly commit money laundering. Money mule scams come in many forms, including but not limited to online job scams, work from home scams, and romance scams. With online job and work from home scams, for instance, fraudsters advertise jobs that usually seem too good to be true by guaranteeing high pay and requiring few, if any, qualifications. Once you’re “hired”, your “boss” will ask you to use your personal checking account to transfer funds, often allowing you to keep a portion for yourself. While this might seem like a simple request that comes with an added perk, you might actually be an unwitting participant in money laundering. Romance scams work similarly—an online companion asks you to assist them in transferring money. Often blinded by rose-colored glasses, victims are eager to help their paramour, only to wind up involved in a money laundering scheme.

What should I do if I think I’ve been a victim?

If you think you’re a victim of a money mule scam—or any type of fraud—please contact our Help Desk right away. Visit our Security page to learn more about how you can protect yourself from scams.