SCAM ALERT: Money Mules

As we talked about in the last blog and the scams that are surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been brought to our attention that “money mule” scams are also on the rise. Money mule is defined as a person who is used to transfer or launder illegally obtained money at the direction of or for someone else. Often times, you may not realize you are participating in illegal activity because the scammers make you think you are conducting business transactions or helping them out in some way.

Here’s examples of ways this type of scam could play out. Scammers will send “earned” money to a victim after they believe they have found an amazing “work from home” job opportunity, met someone on an online dating site asking for monetary help, or they are under the impression they’ve won a prize. After the scammer has sent the money to the victim through wire transfers or gift cards, they will ask them to take a portion of the money and send it to a “third party” and to keep some for themselves., more than likely, the “third party” account is the scammers account. They perform this scam because it is less likely for them to get caught with suspicious fund and activity and the victim is left to face the consequences.

How to avoid money mule scams:
  • – Never accept a position that asks you to transfer funds. Be aware that “normal” business transactions are not performed in this manner and it is a way they are using you to perform these illegal transactions.
  • – If you find a love interest on an online dating platform, do not send money to or from this person, they are likely getting you to move money for them.
  • – Never send money to collect a prize, that’s not how that usually works. They are scamming you into performing their transactions for them.
What if you fall victim?

The best advice we can give you, if you are to fall victim of a money mule scam is to immediately cut off all contact with the potential scammer and notify your financial institution and the company the wire or gift card is from. Then, report it to local law enforcement and Federal Trade Commission.

Read the following article from the FBI to learn more about money mule scams: