What is a money mule?
Any individual who transfers funds to assist criminals with laundering proceeds from illegal activity. Often, the criminals offer easy money in return for the help to move their money.
The criminal may offer:
- Pre-paid cards
How are mules recruited?
- Romance scams
- Employment scams promising easy money
- Lottery scams
- Unsolicited emails or other communications requesting to open a bank account or cryptocurrency wallet in their name.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can be recruited to be a money mule. Targeted populations tend to include the elderly, college-aged students and newly immigrated individuals.
In 2020 and 2021 complaints of scams have increased as a result of isolation due to quarantine restrictions, loss of employment and increases in remote work.
Individuals acting as money mules are putting themselves at risk for identity theft, personal liability, negative impacts on credit scores and the inability to open bank accounts in the future. In addition, these individuals face prison sentences, fines or community service.
To prevent yourself from being recruited as a money mule:
- Don’t accept job offers that ask you to receive company funds into your personal account or ask you to open a business bank account
- Be suspicious if a romantic partner asks you to receive or transfer funds from your account
- Do not provide your financial details to anyone
- Do not provide copies of your identification documents to anyone.
If you think you are being used as a money mule:
- Stop communicating with the suspected criminal
- Stop transferring funds
- Notify Law Enforcement
- Notify your bank.
For additional information on Money Mules, please view:
FBI Scams and Safety: Don’t Be a Mule: Awareness Can Prevent Crime