You could be a money mule without realizing it

You could be a money mule without realizing it

If you were to hear the term money mule, you might correlate it with something along the lines of a drug mule. Drug mules are people who are knowingly taking illegal drugs across international borders. So no one would fault you if you thought money mules performed a similar task. The truth is that money mules do perform a similar task but not in the way you might think and often they have no idea they’re doing it.

Money mules are usually unwitting pawns in international money laundering schemes. Their role is to take in stolen money or goods and send them to a new location. That location could be physical or virtual. Another problem with money mules is that they can be roped into becoming one in a multitude of ways, many of which we have discussed before.

For example, we’ve discussed reshipping or repacking scams before. This is where you get a work from home job as a ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse distribution coordinator, or ‘local hub inspector’. You’ll be sent items and told to inspect them for damage before sending the items to a third party. These items are often either stolen or purchased with stolen information. This is one of the most dangerous forms of being a money mule because even if you didn’t know the goods were stolen, you could still go to jail. If you knowingly falsify shipping documents that violate US Customs you are breaking the law.

Another common way scammers recruit money mules is with other phony job offers. The job itself may not matter but the scammers will send you a fake or stolen check and tell you to deposit it into your bank account. You’ll then be instructed to buy supplies from their ‘preferred vendor’. This is money that will be coming out of your own bank account. Once the bank discovers the check is fraudulent, you’ll be responsible for paying that money back to your bank. This could result in having your bank account closed and you could find it difficult to open a bank account somewhere else.

Thanks to the current pandemic and the unemployment that’s resulted from it, money mule scams have risen to unprecedented levels. These money mule schemes have increased by 609 percent according to a leading security firm. With so many people desperate for a steady income, many are falling into the traps of these scammers.

Legitimate employers will never ask you to pay for anything from your own bank account. If one asks you to they’re probably using you as a mule.