Don't Fall for Money Mule Scams!
According to the Federal Trade Commission, money mule scams involve criminals trying to use innocent victims into moving stolen money for them. If these victims follow through with moving the stolen money, they could be what law enforcement agents call a "money mule."
Money mule scams occur in several ways. Oftentimes, the scammers use means like online dating, work-from-home jobs, or extravagant prizes. The criminals will send money to you, often via check, and ask you to deposit it in your bank account and send some of the money to someone else. They'll typically ask you to use gift cards or wire transfers. What they don't tell you is the money is stolen and they're lying about the reason they sent it...there was no relationship, there was no job, there was no prize...only a scam!
If you deposit these checks, it may clear your account like a valid check, but it will later turn out to be a fake check. Your bank will want you to repay it, and if you give the scammer your account information, they may misuse it. There may be legal repercussions for helping scammers move stolen money.
How can you avoid money mule scams?
- Don't accept a job that asks you to transfer money or make a deposit. They may tell you to send money to their "client" or their "supplier." Say no. You may be helping move stolen money.
- Never send money to collect a prize. That's always a scam, and no legitimate prize company would ask you to move money to receive money.
- Don't send money back to an online love interest who has sent you money.
Criminals are good at creating a sense of urgency and excitement to help them move their stolen money. Don't fall for it. The money may be from other victims they have scammed.
If you think you might be involved in a money mule or money transfer scam, stop the transfer immediately. Notify your bank officer or call our customer care team at 855-660-5862 and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
Below is the American Banker's Association Foundation and the FTC's new info graphic about money mule scams. Take a look and don't be afraid to discuss this with your family and friends. A simple phone call or text message may make the difference in someone's life.
Thanks to the FTC for this information.