Living these days can be extra expensive, and it does not help that very few jobs are available. People are searching the internet for side hustles or easy employment to get by. But that is precisely how these scammers target people into becoming unwitting money mules.
What is an unwitting money mule?
Criminals who acquire money illegally need a way to launder or hide where it came from. Criminals use a money mule to move the money on their behalf into another account, whether the mule’s or someone else’s.
The criminal mastermind often pays the mule a small sum for the job. However, because banks and law enforcement may have already flagged the mule’s accounts, they might need someone else to move the money.
Criminals will then target people who are eager to make a quick buck. Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are a breeding ground for these get rich schemes.
Under the guise of a job, the “employer” will pay the victim to store some of the business’s money in their bank account or open an account in the victim’s name for the business to use. However, this puts the victim’s identity and financial assets at risk and makes them a criminal accomplice.
Spotting the signs of a money mule scam
The most obvious red flag of a money mule scam is when someone requests to use another person’s bank account to receive and send money on their behalf. Below are just some of the ways money mules are recruited:
· Dating apps: Scammers build a relationship with a victim to gain their trust and sometimes will even send money. Later in the relationship, they start asking the victim for money favors.
· Blockchain or crypto games: Criminals target gamers and ask them to convert dirty money into in-game currency and spend it on virtual purchases.
· Sweepstakes: Prize scams occur when the victim wins a contest without entering or too easily. They are typically asked to return part of the award money.
· Remote work: Job postings that promise easy money in exchange for easy tasks from suspicious or unknown companies.
Being a money mule carries serious criminal charges. With how common scams are these days, staying alert is more important than ever. If something is too good to be true, it is best to steer clear.