More and more, law enforcement is less likely to look the other way when it comes to Money Mules.
It depends on the circumstances but more and more Money Mules are being prosecuted and going to jail! Additionally, they have significantly high liability to being sued by the victims they helped rob or scam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.!
Europol The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known under the name Europol, formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drugs Unit, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organized crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU member states. The Agency has no executive powers, and its officials are not entitled to arrest suspects or act without prior approval from authorities in the member states. Based in The Hague, it comprised 1,065 staff as of 2016.
WEBSITE LINK and the FBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. both are taking this deadly seriously. Here is a report on recent Europol activity against Mules!
Law enforcement authorities from 31 countries, supported by Europol, Eurojust, and the European Banking Federation (EBF), have stepped up their efforts to crack down on money mule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes. schemes that rope in victims often unaware that the money they are sending is part of an elaborate money-laundering scheme.
The fifth European Money Mule Action (EMMA 5) took place between September – November 2019, resulting in the identification of 3833 money mules alongside 386 money mule recruiters, of which 228 were arrested. 1025 criminal investigations were open, many of them are still ongoing. More than 650 banks, 17 bank associations and other financial institutions helped to report 7520 fraudulent money mule transactions, preventing a total loss of €12.9 million.
This year, law enforcement, judicial and financial authorities from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Moldova, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Ukraine participated in this international swoop.
Europol and Eurojust organized various operational and coordination meetings in The Hague to discuss the unique approach of each Member State to tackle “money muling” (as it is now called) in their respective country. During the three-month action, Europol supported the operations by assisting the national authorities with cross-checks against Europol’s databases and intelligence gathering for further analysis, while Eurojust contributed to the swift forwarding and facilitation of the execution of European Investigation Orders.
UNSUSPECTING MONEY MULES
Money mules, unlike their drug-trade counterparts, are not shuffling illicit Illicit means something that is not legally permitted or authorized under the law; unlicensed; unlawful. It can also mean disapproved of or not permitted for moral or ethical reasons. goods over a physical border. Instead, they take part – often unknowingly – in money laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions. activities by receiving and transferring illegally obtained money between bank accounts and/or countries.
Recruiters of money mules are coming up with ingenious ways to lure in their candidates. This year, cases involving romance scams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. were reported on the rise, with criminals increasingly recruiting money mules on online dating sites, grooming Grooming is a form of setting up a victim for a scam or other crime by befriending and establishing an emotional connection with the victim, and sometimes the family, to lower the victim's inhibitions with the objective of the scam or criminal activity. Grooming includes the development of a trust relationship between the criminal and the victim, getting the victims to the point where they can be more completely manipulated.
their victims over a period of time to convince them to open bank accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds. Criminals are also more and more turning to social media to recruit new accomplices through get-rich-quick online advertisements. This technique is particularly popular when it comes to targeting students and young adults.
Even if money mules act unwittingly, they are committing a crime.
Law enforcement will turn first to whoever’s name features on the bank account, and the legal consequences can be severe. Depending on the country’s legal framework, mules may face lengthy imprisonments and acquire a criminal record that could seriously affect the rest of their lives, such as never being able to secure a mortgage or open a bank account.
What Is Money Muling?
To raise awareness of this type of fraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements.
A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim., the money muling awareness campaign #DontbeaMule kicks off this month across Europe. With awareness-raising material, available for download in 25 languages, the campaign will inform the public about how these criminals operate, how they can protect themselves, and what to do if they become a victim.
For a few weeks, international partners from law enforcement and judicial authorities, together with financial institutions, will be supporting the campaign at the national level.
Do you think you might be used as a mule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes.? Act now before it is too late: stop transferring money and notify your bank and your national police immediately.
HOW ARE MONEY MULES RECRUITED?
- Seemingly legitimate job offers (e.g. ‘money transfer agents’) announced via online job forums, emails, social media (e.g. Facebook posts in closed groups, Instagram, Snapchat) or pop-up ads Pop-up ads (also known as pop-ups) - Unsolicited advertising that appears as a "pop-up" window on a computer screen. Sometimes these can be created to look like a financial institution's request for personal information..
- Direct messages sent through instant messaging apps Applications or Apps
An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc.
Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free.
Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware.
Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing. (e.g. WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram) or by email.
- Directly in person, on the street.
WHO ARE THE MOST TARGETED INDIVIDUALS?
- Newcomers to the country (often targeted soon after arrival) and unemployed people, students, and those in economic hardship.
- The most likely targets are people under 35 years old. Recently, criminal groups have begun recruiting younger generations (from 12 to 21 years old).
WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS?
The following characteristics do not necessarily indicate money mule solicitation, but they are commonly used.
FAKE JOB OFFERS
- Money mule adverts can copy a genuine company’s website and have a similar web address in order to make the scam seem authentic.
- Emails with fake job offers are often awkward and badly written. The sender’s email address is likely to be from a free web-based service (Gmail, Yahoo!, Windows Live Hotmail, etc.) which does not match the company name.
- Money mule adverts normally state that they are an overseas company seeking ‘local/national representatives’ or ‘agents’ to act on their behalf for a period of time, sometimes to avoid high transaction fees or local taxes.
- The position involves transferring money or goods.
- The specific job duties are not described.
- The position does not list educational or experience requirements.
- All interactions and transactions will be done online. The offer promises significant earning potential for little effort.
- The nature of the work of the fake company can vary, but the specifics of the job being advertised always include using your bank account to move money.
- Someone you do not know asks you to move their money through your bank account and offers you a cut.
- The contact is established in person, through social media networks or instant messaging apps.
- The opportunity to make easy money is presented as having no risks, using expressions such as ‘legit money’, ‘100% guaranteed’, and ‘same day cash’.
- You are told what to do and how much others have already earned for doing the same.
- The reason why this is needed can vary, but you will always be requested to give your bank account number.
- ! Remember: illegal money will come and go through your bank account, but in the end the responsibility will stay with you.
HOW TO FIGHT MONEY LAUNDERING?
- Never give your bank account or any other personal details to anyone unless you know and trust them.
- Secure your bank cards. Do not disclose your online banking login details, PIN, CVV CVV stands for Card Verification Value. CVV is a combination of features used in credit, debit and automated teller machine (ATM) cards for the purpose of establishing the owner’s identity and minimizing the risk of fraud. It often appears as a 3 digit code on the back of credit and debit cards. CVV is also known as the card verification code (CVC) or card security code (CSC). number, etc.
- Be very cautious of unsolicited emails or offers made over social media or in person, promising easy money.
- Ignore any job offer involving money transfers through your bank account, regardless of how authentic they may seem. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
WHAT TO DO?
- If you have received emails of this type do not respond to them and do not click on any links they contain. Inform the police instead.
- Stay alert for job ads and social media posts that promise easy money. Always report the account to the platform provider in order to be taken down and prevent other people from falling for the scam.
- If you happen to receive an offer in person, decline it, and report it to the police.
- If you suspect that you are caught up in a money mule or money laundering scheme, stop transferring money immediately, notify your bank or payment provider, and report it to your national police. You could help prevent other people from becoming money mules and even help catch the criminals.
TAGS: SCARS, Important Article, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Scam Victims, Money Mule, Money Muling, Law Enforcement, Arresting Mules