Many of us have fallen for a scam before. Perhaps you clicked a phony email link or gave your information to the wrong person. If you’re lucky, the experience was resolved quickly with minimal personal cost. Unfortunately, one increasingly common scam has steep legal and financial consequences for everyone involved. Becoming a money mule, unwittingly or not, could have serious consequences such as a variety of legal issues, fines and fees, possible incarceration and the potential to permanently damage your financial standing.
So how can you avoid becoming the victim of money muling? Here’s what you need to know.
Money mule scams are typically disguised as job opportunities. They promise a fast and easy way to earn money. You simply provide your bank account information and let money be transferred into your account. Then you move the money out of your account for a commission. Sounds great, right?
In reality, these “jobs” use you and your bank account to move illegally obtained funds through the financial system. Anyone engaging in this activity acts as a “money mule.” Criminals recruit money mules – unwitting or not – to help them transfer funds without detection by law enforcement. They move money from account to account, eventually using it to fund more crime.
1. Criminal gets money
Criminals obtain money through illegal activity, often through cybercrimes like phishing emails and malware attacks.
2. Money Laundering
Money is hidden in the financial system in a variety of ways. Money mules help transfer money between payment accounts.
3. Criminal Activity
Money is used to fund human trafficking, drugs, terrorism and other crimes.
As technology evolves, money mule scams take on a growing variety of forms. Criminals may try to recruit you in any of the following ways:
Criminals go to great lengths to pass as legitimate, sometimes even copying the website of real companies and creating similar URLs. Be on the lookout for these warning signs:
Always be skeptical of opportunities that seem too good to be true. Do your research about companies before accepting a job or giving out your personal information.
Want additional facts and insights? Access more information about money muling and other common scams:
Looking for more tips to help spot and prevent financial fraud? Learn more here.