An internet scam can be identified by a number of indicators. The most powerful is a request (or even a demand) to send money to someone under dubious circumstances. But what if, instead of giving your money away, you were given a large sum of money? That sounds fantastic. What’s the catch, exactly? The problem is that you will not receive the funds.
Scammers send you money, usually in the form of a check, and then ask you to transmit (part of) it to someone else. Gift cards or wire transfers are frequently requested. Of course, they don’t inform you that the money is stolen and that the purpose for sending it is a lie. There was never a relationship, a job, or a prize. It’s all a ruse.
So, what’s next? It’s possible that if you deposit the scammer’s check, it will clear but subsequently turn out to be a phony. The bank will expect you to repay the loan. If you provide the fraudster with your account information, they might utilize it for their own purposes. You could even face legal consequences if you assist a scammer in moving stolen funds.
A money mule is a person who transfers and launders illegally obtained funds on behalf of another person. Scams involving online dating, work-at-home jobs, or gifts and prizes can occur in a variety of ways.
How Do Money Mule Scams Work?
A scammer may impersonate someone who offers you a job, claims you’ve won a prize, or initiates an online relationship with you. Whatever the case may be, they now want to send you money, which they will then urge you to send to someone else. They frequently urge you to use gift cards or send money. However, the money has been stolen, and you are being used as a “money mule” by the scammer. If you deposit a scammer’s check, it may clear, but you’ll be responsible for repaying the bank if the bank discovers it’s a phony check. You could face legal consequences if you assist a scammer in moving stolen funds, even if you did it unknowingly.
Who is at Risk and How Is Money Mules Recruited?
Anyone can be contacted to be a money mule, but criminals frequently target students, job seekers, small company owners, elders, and recent retirees. Money mules are typically found on employment boards, dating sites, social networking platforms, online classifieds, and phishing emails.
How Can You Avoid Money Mule Scams?
- Accepting a job that requires you to move money is a bad idea. You may be instructed to send money to a “customer” or “supply.” No, you can’t. You could be assisting a scammer in the transfer of stolen funds.
- Sending money to collect a prize is never a good idea. That’s always a ruse, and they can be attempting to persuade you to transfer stolen funds.
- Returning moneys to an internet love interest who has sent you money is not a good idea. It’s always a con, and another attempt to induce you to transfer stolen funds.
What To Do If You’ve Already Received A Transfer
In the vast majority of circumstances, the easiest and most successful response is to do nothing at all. In this rare instance, inaction is preferable to action. Block questionable “customers,” and advise erroneous transfer senders to contact their bank. Also, if possible, phone your bank to explain the problem.
Don’t spend the unexpected cash, either; the sender may try to recover it through a bank or a court.
In addition, use the procedures outlined below to stay out of trouble:
- Keep track of all receipts, contract details, and correspondence (email or text messages)
- Notify your bank as well as the service provider you utilized to complete the transaction.
- Please distribute this information, as well as the FTC’s new infographic, which was created in collaboration with the American Bankers Association Foundation.
- Law enforcement should be notified. Contact your local FBI field office and report suspicious behavior to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.