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What’s a “Money Mule” Scam?

April 10, 2020

The FBI says scam artists are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to launder ill-gotten gains by accessing your personal and financial information and then using you to move the money for them, either through fund transfers or physical cash movements, in what are called “money mule” schemes. Here’s how they work:

  1. You get an email, maybe through an online job site or a dating website
  2. You provide your banking information and allow money transfers to flow through your account
  3. Then you move the money for someone, who pays you a little cash for your trouble or lures you with the potential of a romantic relationship.

Bad news. And acting as a money mule, allowing others to use your bank account or conducting financial transactions on behalf of others, is a crime whether or not you realize what you’re doing is illegal.

So the FBI is warning to look out for the following scenarios:

  • People claiming to be U.S. service members stationed overseas or U.S. citizens working or quarantined abroad who ask you to send or receive money on behalf of themselves or a loved one battling COVID-19
  • People claiming to be in the medical equipment business who ask you to send or receive money on their behalf
  • People claiming to be affiliated with charitable organizations who ask you to send or receive money on their behalf

See the pattern here?

Always steer clear of any requests from strangers to act as a money mule. And if you’re contacted with such a request, get in touch with the local FBI office ASAP.