Be aware for Money Mules.
Scammers may try to use you to move stolen money. If you help them, you could be what law enforcement calls a money mule. Scammers send money to you, sometimes by check, then ask you to send some of it to someone else. They often want you to purchase gift cards to mail back or wire transfer funds to another account. Of course, they don’t say the money is stolen and they’re lying about the reason to send it. There never was a relationship, job, or prize. Only a scam.
Signs You May Be Acting as a Money Mule*
- You receive an unsolicited email or contact over social media promising easy money for little to no effort.
- The “employer” you communicate with uses web-based email (such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or Outlook).
- You are asked to open up a bank account in your own name or in the name of a company you form to receive and transfer money.
- As an employee, you are asked to receive funds in your bank account and then “process funds” or “transfer funds” via a wire transfer, ACH, mail, or money service business (such as Western Union or MoneyGram).
- You are allowed to keep a portion of the money you transfer.
- Your duties have no specific job description.
- Your online companion, whom you have never met in person, asks you to receive money and then forward the funds to an individual you do not know.
How to Protect Yourself
- Do not accept any job offers that ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. A legitimate company will not ask you to do this.
- Be wary when an employer asks you to form a company to open up 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, “Can you send a copy of the license/permit to conduct business in my county or state?”
How to Respond
- If you have received solicitations of this type, do not respond to them and do not click on any links they contain. Inform your local police or the FBI.
- If you believe that you are participating in a money mule scheme, stop transferring money immediately and notify your bank, the service you used to conduct the transaction, and law enforcement.