Increasingly, fraud networks are recruiting unsuspecting fraud victims to receive and transfer money from other victims. When this happens, the victim becomes a money mule.
What is a Money Mule?
A money mule is an individual who is recruited by fraudsters to serve as a middle person to transfer stolen money. The mule may, or may not, be aware that they are a pawn in a larger network. When a mule moves money, it becomes harder to identify the fraudsters from the victims.
The money is often transferred using bank wire transfers, email money transfers, through money services businesses and virtual currencies. Typically, mules get paid for their services; receiving a small percentage of the money transferred. Money laundering is a crime.
Warning Signs - How to Protect Yourself
Fraudsters use several methods to recruit potential Money Mules:
- If you receive funds for any reason from an unknown individual or company, and you are asked to forward it elsewhere - DON’T!
- Be aware of offers for employment from what appears to be a legitimate employer looking for a “Financial Officer”. The duties usually involve: collecting payments for the new employer, accepting funds into your personal bank account, and forwarding the money to a different country.
- Victims of romance scams have been used as money mules as their “loved one” is working in a foreign country and needs help to collect funds.
- Consumers that have won a fake lottery receive advance payments on their winnings. They are then asked to forward it to a “financial office” to cover fees or taxes.
- Any request to conduct unusual or questionable transactions on behalf of a third party should be questioned.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online at www.antifraudcentre.ca.