The Memphis office of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies issued an alert in 2020 saying ‘money mule’ schemes are increasing.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Beware of ‘money mule’ scams, aimed at roping unwitting accomplices into illegal schemes.
Randy Hutchinson with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South (BBB) said the scammers, who are often overseas, will use so-called money mules to receive and transfer the proceeds of scams to them.
The Memphis office of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies issued an alert in 2020 saying money mule schemes are increasing. And the Department of Justice took action against 2,300 money mules in its third annual Money Mule Initiative in 2020.
Who is targeted?
Anyone can become a money mule, but the FBI said the elderly, college students, and recent immigrants are often targeted.
Often, a new love interest a victim met online, or a prospective employer, may ask the victim to receive funds or goods and forward them to the scammer.
One study found that 20 – 30% of romance fraud victims are turned into money mules.
Can unwitting ‘money mules’ be prosecuted?
Regardless of whether a person takes part in the schemes knowingly or unknowingly, money mules are committing a crime and can face serious consequences.
A U.S. Attorney in Mississippi indicted 20 Nigerians who recruited unwitting victims for a ‘work-at-home opportunity’ to receive electronic goods, repackage them, and mail them elsewhere. The items had been purchased with stolen credit cards.
How to avoid the scam
Don’t accept a job offer that requires the employee to use their own bank account to transfer money, or any job that involves receiving and reshipping packages.
Those looking for love online should be suspicious when someone on a dating website wants to use the target’s bank account to transfer money.
Be wary when communications are poorly written with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Many scammers are in foreign countries and their English is poor.
Read more about money mule scams and how to avoid them HERE.