What is a Money Mule you may ask? A Money Mule is a person who transfers stolen money or merchandise from one country to another, either in person, through a courier service, or electronically. The term is commonly used to describe online scams that prey on victims who are unaware that the money or merchandise they are transferring is stolen. As a precaution, First Financial wanted to alert our members that there have been several reports of credit union members across the country being recruited as Money Mules, and unknowingly assisting fraudsters in laundering stolen funds. We want you to be aware of this scheme and to report any suspicious activity to your local authorities immediately.
Money Mules unknowingly assist fraudsters in laundering stolen funds. The source of the stolen funds received by the Money Mules is often from account takeovers at other financial institutions through online banking systems.
Money Mules are most often recruited through bogus job offers for payment processors, financial managers, or overseas representatives. Fraudsters typically find their potential Money Mules by searching websites where job seekers post their resumes. A key consideration in accepting the position is the ability to work from home.
Upon accepting the job, the Money Mules are notified they will receive deposits to their accounts via ACH and/or wire transfer. In some cases, the money mules are instructed to open an account at a financial institution in order to receive the funds. The Mules are instructed to not share details of their new job with anyone. Upon receipt of the funds, the Mules are instructed to either wire the funds to an account at another financial institution (foreign and domestic) or send the funds to individuals via Western Union. The Money Mules keep a portion of the funds deposited to their accounts as wages.
The deposits made to the Money Mule accounts via ACH and/or wire transfer are actually stolen from deposit accounts at other financial institutions and investment accounts held at brokerage firms. Using sophisticated banking Trojans, such as Zeus, fraudsters steal the login credentials of online banking users and investors who access their investment accounts online. The fraudster logs into the account and transfers funds.
If you’ve fallen for the scam and become a Money Mule, here’s what has gone wrong:
- You’re receiving stolen money. This may be through bogus sales from online auctions or the proceeds of phishing, where crooks have obtained victims’ bank details and are transferring their cash to your account (which is why they often want you to open an account at a particular bank — the same one as their victims).
- It may even be cash from a crime that the crooks just want to get out of the country. Or someone just sends you a bogus check that you bank and then forward.
- You’re taking a cut of the proceeds of crime and transferring the rest via an untraceable money wire to a crook.
- You’ve given away your own personal information in that phony employment contract you signed, leaving yourself open to identity theft.
Although easy-money job offers sound so inviting, you do not want to become the real perpetrator of this crime. So here are some ways to make sure you DO NOT become a Money Mule:
- First and foremost, money forwarding jobs like this don’t exist. Period. There is no law preventing global companies from directly transferring money from one country to another.
- Never accept payments from anyone and then transfer part of the proceeds by money wire.
- Don’t open a new bank account to receive money from people you don’t know.
- Scrutinize the name of the company offering employment. Go to a site like DomainTools.com and check out when the website was registered. If it’s a scam, it’ll probably be within the prior 28 days.
- Check the advertisement or e-mail for poor language and grammar.
Please contact our Member Service Center at 866.750.0100 if you suspect any fraudulent activity on one of your First Financial accounts.
Contributing Article: http://www.scambusters.org/moneymule.html