In a time of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing you need to worry about is keeping yourself and your money safe from fraud. Scammers may try to use you to move stolen money. If you help them, you could be what law enforcement calls a money mule.
How Do People Become Money Mules?
Money mule scams happen several ways. The story often involves scams related to online dating, work-at-home jobs, or even prizes. Scammers send money to you, sometimes by check, then ask you to send (some of) it to someone else. They often want you to use gift cards or wire transfers. Of course, they don’t tell you the money is stolen and they’re lying about the reason to send it. And there never was a relationship, job, or prize. Only a scam.
What happens next? If you deposit the scammer’s check, it may clear but then later turn out to be a fake check. The bank will want you to repay it. If you give the scammer your account information, they may misuse it. You could even get into legal trouble for helping a scammer move stolen money.
How Can You Avoid Money Mule Scams?
Criminals are good at making up reasons to help them move money. Don’t do it. Here are some warning signs to look for:
- Don’t accept a job that asks you to transfer money. They may tell you to send money to a “client” or “supplier.” Say no. You may be helping a scammer move stolen money.
- Don’t open bank accounts in your name for another business, or transfer money to another person or business. Any job or a person that sends you money and asks you to send it to someone else, or do something using your name or identity, is a red flag that you’re being asked to become their money mule.
- Never send money to collect a prize. That’s always a scam, and they might be trying to get you to move stolen money.
- Don’t send money back to an online love interest who’s sent you money. Also always a scam — and another a way to get you to move stolen money.
- Be cautious of anyone claiming to be overseas. Keep a look out for calls, texts, messages, or emails from people who claim to be overseas and ask you to send or receive money on their behalf or a loved one
Please share this information and the FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation. People may be embarrassed or afraid to talk about their experiences, but you can help. A simple phone call, email or text, saying “Look what I just found” may make a difference in someone’s life.
Need Additional Help or Information? Contact us!
If you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud or a money mule scam, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-367-7485 or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help in any way that we can.
Source: Federal Trade Commission