FBI: Don’t be a Money Mule

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HOUSTON (CW39) The FBI is launching a campaign to warn up about being witting or unwitting “money mules” to move illegally-obtained money between different payment accounts.

The “Don’t Be mule” campaign is starting because the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division thinks many people are susceptible to fall for a money mule scheme because of the surge in unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Criminals have people launder money form online scams and frauds or even crimes like human and drug trafficking. Agents say criminals target the elderly, students, those looking for work, or those on dating websites. The Bureau says “money mules’ often get a commission for their service, or they might help because they believe they have a relationship with the person who is asking for help.

Agents say mules add a layer between the criminals and the crime making it harder to track them down. They say being a mule is punishable even if you aren’t aware you are committing a crime.

How to protect yourself:

  • Do not accept job offers that ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money.
  • Be wary when an employer asks you to form a company to open a new bank account.
  • Be suspicious when the individual you met on a dating website wants to use your bank account for receiving and forwarding money.
  • Never give your financial details to someone you don`t know and trust, especially if you met them online.
  • If you believe that you are participating in 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.
  • Learn more about money mules here: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/money-mules

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