“Money mules” may be unsuspecting Americans who act as shipping managers, do the dirty work for the bad guy, and open bank accounts, too. Sometimes the mule may be foreign, traveling to the United States specifically to open bank accounts.
Mules often get hooked into a “small business” or employment that is a function of a criminal enterprise. The mules often respond to “help wanted” ads from online job placement sites. Shipping scams are a common tactic criminals use to employ mules to receive goods bought with stolen credit card numbers, who then ship to people who buy them in online auctions. The mules in this process are essentially facilitating selling hot goods and money laundering.
The mules are often baited into setting up bank accounts that the criminal controls. These bank accounts will be set up under the name of the mule, and are generally programmed to transfer money overseas in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid detection.
Most mules end up pulling money out of their pockets to front shipping costs with the promise of a big payoff. In the end, the mule is often bilked and ends up with an empty bank account.
But not this mule, who was arrested and sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for sending more than $860,000 to offshore online scammers. He was caught after a sheriff’s deputy became suspicious during a traffic stop. They found eleven cell phones, fake IDs, $53,200 in cash, and 76 Western Union receipts. This ain’t no poor unsuspecting mule. This guy knew exactly what he was doing.
“He admitted accepting and cashing wire transfers from online shoppers for vehicles, boats, motorcycles and vehicle trailers, then sending that money to Romania or Spain in small amounts to make detection less likely. The items for sale did not actually exist.”
To ensure peace of mind, subscribe to an identity theft protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com
Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss money mules and job scams on Fox News. (Disclosures)