What Is A Money Mule? – An Overview

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What Is A Money MuleMoney 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.? – An Overview

Money MulesMoney mules Money mules are a type of money laundering where a person transfers illicit funds through a medium (such as a bank account) to obfuscate where the money came from. There are different types of money mules including witting, unwitting, and complicit. Are An Integral Part Of Transnational Crime Networks

What are they and how do they work?

What Is A Money Mule? – An Overview

Money Muling

More than 90% of money mule transactions identified through the European Money Mule Actions are linked to cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks.. The illegal money often comes from criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. activities like phishing, malwareMalware Short for "malicious software," this term means computer viruses and other types of programs that cybercriminals use to disrupt or access your computer, typically with the aim of gathering sensitive files and accounts. attacks, online auction fraudFraud 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., e-commerce fraud, business e-mail compromiseBusiness E-mail Compromise This financial fraud targets businesses engaged in international commerce. Scammers gain access to company e-mail and trick employees into sending money to a “supplier” or “business partner” overseas. (BEC) and CEO fraud, romance scamsScams 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., holiday fraud (booking fraud), and many others.

What Is Money Muling?

  • Money muling is a type of money launderingMoney 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.. A money mule is a person who receives money from a third party in their bank account and transfers it to another one or takes it out in cash and gives it to someone else, obtaining a commission for it.
  • Even if money mules are not directly involved in the crimes that generate the money (cybercrime, payment and on-line fraud, drugs, human trafficking, etc.), they are accomplices, as they launder the proceeds of such crimes. Simply put, money mules help criminal syndicates to remain anonymous while moving funds around the world.

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 adsPop-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 appsApps 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 scamScam 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. 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.

INSTANT CASH

  • 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, CVVCVV 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.

Consequences

From a law enforcement perspective, if you report and fully cooperate you are unlikely to face prosecution. But if you try to hide it or refuse to stop you could go to jail!

However, another major consequence is civil litigation. Money mules can be sued by their victims and may be held personally responsible for every amount of money that passed through their accounts.

SCARS RECOMMENDATION: If you have been a money mule or received money or parcels from others you do not physically know consult a criminal defense attorney immediately about your risks and legal defense.

More Information

Did You Receive Money From A Scammer, Or Give A Scammer Access To Your Accounts?

You may have become a Money Mule. This is a crime!

You may have been involved in money laundering or aiding and abetting transnational criminals. Do not try to hide from this – this is serious, and if you are discovered (and you will be) then you might be prosecuted.

You should report these crimes to your local police – however, we strongly recommend that you speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. You have no time to waste. You cannot avoid this, do it today!

SCARS is not a law firm and we are not attorneys. The information we provide is for educational purposes only. See additional disclaimer below.

To find a criminal defense attorney in the United States visit FindLaw here: Criminal Law – FindLaw  For other countries look for your local directory of criminal defense attorneys or solicitors.

What Is A Money Mule

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