A money mule is a person who transfers stolen money between different countries, often without realising that they are being used to carry out the fraud. It is a form of money laundering. The word ‘mule’ comes from the expression ‘drugs mule’, a person enlisted to transport drugs on behalf of dealers.
Even if the money mule is not involved in the crime that generates the money – and is unaware that they are handling illegal funds – they are still acting illegally.
- Being approached to deposit funds in your bank account and then transfer it elsewhere (normally a different country), either in exchange for a commission or because you have been threatened.
- Being offered a ‘job’ which involves transferring money via your own bank account.
- Fraudsters gaining access to your bank account in order to transfer stolen money.
- Being traced and charged. Banks and police have a high detection rate for money muling and the penalties can be severe, including imprisonment. Being found guilty of money muling can also seriously affect your employment or education place, and your future credit rating.
Guard against money muling
- Be wary of offers of work which involve transferring other people’s funds in and out of your own bank account. Check that anybody offering you work is legitimate.
- Be wary of emails or other approaches stating that they are from an overseas company seeking ‘local representatives’, ‘money transfer agents’ or ‘payment processing agents’ to act on their behalf for a period of time, sometimes to avoid high transaction charges or local taxes.
- Never allow your bank account to be used by someone else.
- Never reveal your bank account login details – username, password and authentication – to anybody else either by offering them the information or being careless about privacy.
- Just because a friend or family member is transferring money for other people, it does not mean it is the right thing to do.
- However much you need the money, do not get involved in money muling. And remember … if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you suspect you have been approached to be a money mule
- Do not be tempted to participate.
- Students are often targeted by fraudsters looking for money mules. If in doubt, speak to your money adviser.
If you have already disclosed your bank account details or received money into your account and you think it could be a money mule scam
- Contact your bank immediately.
- Report it to the police