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Money Mules

Is a person who transfers money and reships high value goods that have been fraudulently obtained in one country, usually via the internet, to another country, usually where the perpetrator of the fraud lives. The term money mule is formed by analogy with drug mules.

The need for money mules arises because while a criminal in a developing country can obtain the credit card numbers, bank account numbers, passwords and other financial details of a victim living in the first world via the internet through techniques such as malware and phishing, turning those details into money usable in the criminal's own country can be difficult. Many businesses will refuse to transfer money or ship goods to certain countries where there is a high likelihood that the transaction is fraudulent. The criminal therefore recruits a money mule in the victim's country who will receive money transfers and merchandise and resend them to the criminal in return for a commission.

The following are common scenarios:



  • Online job posting Web sites are used by criminals to locate individuals seeking employment with flexible work hours that can be performed from home. These work-at-home schemes often involve written employment contracts, job descriptions and procedures to legitimize the scam.

  • Advance fee scams promising large monetary rewards for acting as a financial intermediary can entice individuals to participate in this activity.

  • Mystery shopping jobs may be used that require the employee to assess the performance of money service businesses by completing EFTs and then evaluating the service using customer satisfaction forms.

  • Social networking sites may be used to recruit individuals to act as money mules. Criminals conjure up various imaginative stories to befriend and persuade individuals to receive and forward stolen funds.

  • Some hesitant or skeptical money mules have been intimidated, harassed and threatened by their criminal "employers" to process the funds transfers quickly and with secrecy.

  • The personal identifiable information provided by the money mule might later be used to commit identity theft or account takeover.

The following are examples of events that may indicate money mule account activity:



  • A deposit account opened with a minimal deposit soon followed by large EFT deposits.

  • Deposit customers who suddenly begin receiving and sending EFTs related to new employment, investments, business opportunities or acquaintances (especially opportunities found on the Internet).

  • A newly opened deposit account with an unusual amount of activity, such as account inquiries, or a large dollar amount or high number of incoming EFTs.

  • An account that receives incoming EFTs then shortly afterward originates outgoing wire transfers or cash withdrawals approximately eight to ten percent less than the incoming EFTs.

  • A foreign exchange student with a J-1 Visa and fraudulent passport opening a student account with a high volume of incoming/outgoing EFT activity.

       
 
       
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