Suing Your Money Mule or Scammer

Suing Your Money Mule Or Scammer

Many Times The Police Will Not Act Against Money Mules Or Scammers

But if they are in your same country, especially in the United States or other English Common Law Based Countries then civil litigation may be an answer!

A SCARS Insight

The following is a general guide for educational purposes and does not represent a legal opinion. We recommend that you contact a competent licensed attorney or solicitor before taking any legal action.

Can You Use Law Suits To Recover Your Money?

In many cases, the answer may be yes!

First, it is important to understand what the limitations are on suing someone in your country. For this, we suggest that you do your research AND talk to a civil litigator to review your options and to develop a viable strategy.

You will need to understand any rights (if any) and what your chances of success may be.

For example: If you are a scam victim in the United States and you sent money to a money mule in the United State you might be able to recover some of your money by suing the Money Mule as a co-defendant in a civil complaint for fraud.

Remember, our role is not to educate you about the law or how to file a lawsuit, it is just to suggest an option that you can explore.

What Is Fraud?

Fraud is defined as an intentional deception committed by a person who acts deceitfully and unlawfully in order to obtain something of value. Types of fraud include tax fraud, credit card fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, Social Security fraud, and bankruptcy fraud. Those who are accused of fraud are subject to fines and jail time. But if the police and prosecutors will not act, civil litigation is a possible route and under your direct control.

Fraud occurs when someone gains something of value, usually money or property, from a victim by knowingly making a false statement or misrepresentation of a matter of fact, or potentially being an accessory to fraud.

While fraud itself is an independent criminal charge, it can also appear in other charges as the means used or the intent required in the commission of a crime.

For example, identity theft charges often require that a defendant is accused of stealing another’s personal information with the intent to defraud them. Although a fraud scheme would be involved, that defendant could be charged with identity theft or criminal use of personal identification information violation rather than fraud – depending on the state.

It is important to explore with your attorney all possible charges that could be made against those participating in scams to determine which are appropriate in each state or territory or country.

What Is Civil Fraud?

Conduct that constitutes civil fraud is incapable of precise definition, but it usually includes some type of deceitful, dishonest, or unfair behavior.  The primary difference between civil fraud and criminal fraud is that to succeed on a claim for civil fraud there must be damages; that is, someone must suffer a tangible injury. Criminal fraud can be prosecuted even if unsuccessful.

As a scam victim, the money you lost is those damages (not your emotional distress.) Though, that may help with punitive damages that might be awarded in the case

Claims for civil fraud are usually based on fraudulent misrepresentation or inducement.  Although all states may have slightly different elements that must be met to maintain a fraud action, commonly plaintiff (scam victim) must prove a misrepresentation, concealment, or deceit as to a material fact, the defendant’s knowledge as to the falsity of the representation, the defendant’s intention to induce the reliance by the plaintiff, actual reliance on the representation by the plaintiff to the detriment of the plaintiff, and the plaintiff suffered an injury as a result.

Consider: a money mule may be a scam victim themself. However, did the Mule suspect something was not right or even illegal in the money they received? The mule may have had knowledge of a deception through their suspicions, and their failure to act may be the basis for their culpability.

An important component of proving civil fraud is that any damages must be the proximate result of the fraud (meaning the money you actually lost.)

Compensatory and punitive damages are potential remedies in a civil fraud case.

What Do I Have To Show To Win A Lawsuit For Fraud?

You must show that you were genuinely deceived by the misrepresentations given to win a lawsuit for fraud. You must also show that the person making the statement knew it was an outright lie or that they were involved in a fraud. In the case of a money mule, they may have been a direct participant or an accessory to the fraud – your attorney will help you make these decisions.

Another Potential Approach: Misappropriation Of Funds

While many people are familiar with the term embezzlement, most are less are aware of what misappropriation of funds means.

While both offenses hinge on the unlawful use of another person’s assets, usually in a business setting (but not always,) misappropriation of funds refers to taking of money only and not other forms of property.

Elements Of Misappropriation:

To be liable for misappropriating funds, a case must establish that a defendant

  • Was entrusted with possession or control of funds belonging to another person, entity, or organization (meaning the scam victim)
  • Knowingly misappropriated the money or took an action that resulted in the misappropriation of funds
  • Used the money for his or her own purposes, which can include transferring it to another bank account or refusing to deliver it upon demand by the owner
  • While many misappropriation cases are tried in state court, cases involving particularly large sums may also be prosecuted in federal court.

Other Reasons For a Civil Complaint

Scam victims especially almost never have a chance to have “their day in court” or face the criminal that deceived them. However, filing a lawsuit is an opportunity to tell your story and seek justice.

Mules are in many cases unknowing participants in these scams, but as every victim knows, there were moments of clarity when you knew or suspected it was a scam. For a regular scam victim, this was your own mistake and one that affected you only. But in the case of a Money Mule, this profoundly harms others and there is (or at least there should be) a different level of responsibility to others.

If the money mule receives money from victims and forwards it to a criminal they are typically considered to be Aiding and Abetting. Meaning: To assist someone in committing to commit a crime. Generally, an aider and abettor is criminally liable to the same extent as the principal. Also called “aid or abet” and “counsel and procure.”

To Abet means: To criminally assist another person in the commission of a crime including in the actual commission of the crime (such as receiving the proceeds of the crime – your money.)

They may also be defined as an Accomplice. Meaning they are a person who knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally gives assistance to another in (or in some cases fails to prevent another from) the commission of a crime. An accomplice is criminally liable to the same extent as the principal. An accomplice, unlike an accessory, is typically present when the crime is committed – meaning they received the money in this context.

Is It Morally Right?

This is a hard question and something each person must answer.

We know that most money mules are scam victims themselves, BUT NOT ALL OF THEM ARE! Some are taking a commission or percentage from the money collected for their benefit. Those that are victims themselves are double victims because they lost their own money and then (in many cases) unknowingly participated in defrauding others.

But it comes down to personal responsibility

If a mule suspects they are involved in a scam they have an obligation to notify the police immediately to mitigate the harm to other victims. Most mules, even after they find the truth never come forward. By their silence, they enable the scammer to continue their crime spree.

The mule has a duty to try to prevent more harm.

However, in the end, each participant has to make their own decisions about what is right or wrong.

We recommend, that if you feel that the mule is also a victim, but want to have your day in court to tell your story on the record and perhaps express your opinion of law enforcement’s overall failures, then sue for just $1.00 – so that they is a determination that the mule should not have been involved, but you are not victimizing them again – but this is your choice.

In our opinion, the civil process allows for more discussion and recognition of the problem.

Here Is A Perfect Example:

Source: Attorney general suing over alleged ‘money mule’ scam | wbir.com

U.S. State of Arkansas Attorney general sues woman for alleged ‘money mule’ role in online scam

State Attorney Rutledge said the Hot Springs woman “essentially helped to funnel money, estimated at perhaps upwards of $6-million, to scheme operators in Jamaica.”

State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is suing a Hot Springs Arkansas woman and accusing her of being a “money mule” who facilitated a fake online lottery scam for thieves in Jamaica.

“Jean Butler has been acting as a money mule and facilitating a multi-million dollar sweepstakes scheme,” the Republican attorney general said during a Wednesday news conference. “She essentially helped to funnel money, estimated at perhaps upwards of $6-million, to scheme operators in Jamaica.”

Butler, 73, allegedly served as the American midpoint in addition to being the mule.

Typically, in scams targeting the elderly, the caller says you won a huge prize if you just pay us a fee. Rutledge says Butler didn’t make the calls, but instead, opened the bank accounts for the victims to deposit money into, which thieves in the island nation would then plunder.

“They were simply having to ‘pay the taxes’ or having to pay a fee associated with that prize,” Rutledge said. “Jean Butler would then allow someone in Jamaica to withdraw those monies.”

The civil lawsuit says as many as 50 victims came from across the country and Canada. A woman in Missoula, Mont., first mentioned a specific person in Hot Springs to authorities, triggering the Arkansas investigation.

Other victims came from Nebraska, Kansas, and Ontario.

Rutledge hinted that Butler may have been lured into the scheme by online or e-mail ads that offer easy “work from home” jobs, but she vehemently stressed that she believes Butler knew what she was doing.

“Jean Butler knew exactly what she was doing,” she said. “Jean Butler accepted these checks, she opened up bank accounts, and when the bank accounts by the bank, she would open up another bank account.”

The attorney general shared other details from the investigation, including Butler allegedly telling banks she would be traveling to Jamaica, and so there was no need to flag any suspicious transactions.

“Customs has informed us she does not even have a passport, much less traveled to Jamaica,” Rutledge said.

The case is a civil lawsuit, but Rutledge says the FBI has a criminal investigation underway. A phone number connected to Butler’s address is disconnected. The summons was set to be served Wednesday, so court records did not list a lawyer for Butler that evening.

It will eventually go before Judge Wendell Griffen in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

What Does It Cost To File Suit

If you may be thinking about taking the other party to court so you get the proper compensation. You have to consider the costs, you might want to think again. Suing a person probably costs a lot more money than you expect BUT it can be cheap.

Options:

  • Small claims – inexpensive and very flexible – but you must find out if this is an option
  • State Court – the probable route you would consider
  • Federal Court – much more costly

How much does it cost to sue someone?

Breaking Down the Costs of a Lawsuit

If you’re thinking about suing someone, you probably know you’ll have to hire a lawyer, right? Wrong, you can chose other options, including PRO SE (doing it yourself)

Here’s a quick guide to all the different things you’ll have to pay for when you sue someone.

Hiring an Attorney

Here again, you have options:

  • You can do it yourself – Pro Se
  • Hire an attorney for consultation only
  • Hire an attorney for your paperwork but not for the trial – as an advisor
  • Hire a fixed-fee attorney or one on a contingency basis
  • Hire a full-service attorney

This can be the most expensive part of any lawsuit, but you can do most of the work and save money – but you will have to find an attorney to agree to help you on that basis. That said, the average price range for attorneys is closer to $250 to $550 an hour. The exact price depends on where you live and the attorney’s level of experience. But talk to an attorney first and explore all of your options.

Filing Fees for the Law Suit

To start your lawsuit, you have to file documents with the court. This process can cost up to $500 (again, depending on where you live and the specifics of your case). Be careful of this because you may rack up fees if you need to amend your filing or add to it.

Service Fees

Once you’ve filed everything with the court, you have to serve those documents to the person you’re suing. Since you’re bringing this person to court, you probably don’t want to hand them these papers in person, meaning you’ll have to hire a professional process server – but you can do it yourself and save. This will cost another $100 or so.

Discovery Costs

During the discovery part of the lawsuit, both parties will research both sides of the case. BUT this assumes that the other person intends to show up and contest this. You should discuss this with your attorney, but you may get lucky and the defendant may never show up.

This can include things like:

  • Talking to witnesses
  • Gathering evidence
  • Requesting information from the other party

Each of these things costs money.

One of the things you will probably need is a subpoena to get the banking records of the person you are suing, However, the bank or other entity should supply them when served with the subpoena. This includes law enforcement if they did any investigation of the Mule.

Some will tell you that it costs tens of thousands to sue someone, and it is true (or more) for complex cases against someone that will aggressively defend themself. But in this case, they may not.

But we suggest that you can do it for less than $1,000 – but as always talk to an attorney to explore all of this. The more you personally do, the less it costs you since your time is free!

Remember

This article is not to provide you with a legal opinion, just suggests that you may have options for the recovery of some of your money. There are, as we have indicated above, other reasons to want your day in court as well.

However, considering a lawsuit is a significant action and you should be smart about it. Talk to more than one attorney in your area that specializes in private civil litigation (avoid the corporate litigators and the slip and fall attorneys). Find a small firm that will work with you but that can afford to offer you a break on any fees.

Before you take any action, make sure you understand who you are suing – you will want to sue the scammer and the mule if you can. But make sure you have an idea of how strongly the mule will defend themselves before you begin – this is so you understand the complexity and cost of the suit.

As you have seen above, also talk to the State Attorney or District Attorney to see if they will sue the mule for you!

Last Word

Justice does not come in the press. The press has a role in spreading the word, but it can also poison the case. We urge you to be very cautious about talking about your case. The crime – the scam – yes, but not the lawsuit – UNLESS your attorney advises it.

Additional Information:

This Is A Perfect Example Of Why You Need To Preserve The Evidence

It is vital to never throw away the evidence of a crime. You never know when new opportunities may come up for refunds or tax deductions.

As we have seen over the years, surprise refund programs do happen and if you did not keep your evidence you could miss out.

It is also important to have the information about the crime well organized. This helps in reporting the crime but also going back – sometimes after years – to apply for refunds like this program might turn into. We recommend our SCARS RED BOOK crime organizer from shop.AgainstScams.org

Also read: A Scam Victim’s Checklist

SCARS RED BOOK personal crime information organizer

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