Your Bank Account Could Be Bankrolling Crime
‘Don’t Be a Mule’ Campaign Warns Against Money Mule Schemes
OKLAHOMA CITY—FBI Oklahoma City is urging the public to guard against money mule schemes. The FBI’s ‘Don’t Be a Mule’ campaign works to educate citizens on the unsuspecting ways fraudsters can enlist people to move money illegally.
This year, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID) believes the public is at an increased risk of falling for money mule schemes because of the rise in unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students, those looking for work, or those on dating websites are the most vulnerable. However, anyone can be approached to be a money mule.
Criminals recruit money mules to help launder proceeds derived from online scams and frauds or crimes like human trafficking and drug trafficking. Money mules add layers of distance between crime victims and criminals, which makes it harder for law enforcement to accurately trace money trails.
Money can be moved in different ways, including through wire transfers, cashier’s checks, money service businesses, virtual currency, or any combination of these means.
Money mules often receive a commission for their service, or they might help because they believe they have a trusting or romantic relationship with the individual who is asking for help.
Acting as a money mule is illegal and punishable, even if you aren’t aware, you’re committing a crime. Serving as a money mule can also damage your credit and financial standing. Additionally, you risk having your own personally identifiable information stolen and used by the criminals you are working for, and you may be held personally liable for repaying money lost by victims.
How to protect yourself:
- A legitimate company will not ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Do not accept any job offers that ask you to do so.
- Be wary when an employer asks you to form a company to open a new bank account.
- Never give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust, especially if you met them online.
- Be wary when job advertisements are poorly written with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
- Be suspicious when the individual you met on a dating website wants to use your bank account for receiving and forwarding money.
- Perform online searches to check the information from any solicitation emails and contacts.
- Ask the employer to send you a copy of the license or permit to conduct business in your county or state.
If you believe you are the victim of a money mule scheme:
- Stop communication with the suspected criminal(s).
- Stop transferring money or any other items of value immediately.
- Maintain any receipts, contact information, and relevant communications (emails, chats, text messages, etc.).
- Notify your bank and the service you used to conduct the transaction.
- Notify law enforcement. Report suspicious activity to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov, and contact your local FBI field office.
Learn more about money mules and help raise awareness by sharing the facts through #DontBeAMule.
FBI Oklahoma City Press Relations: 405-290-3992