Thursday, June 1, 2017

Don't be a Money Mule

A "Money Mule" is anyone who allows their banking account be used as a means of transferring funds to an unknown third party. Scams, frauds, and outright money laundering operations utilize a money mule to either move stolen funds or illegal funds. Account holders have a legal responsibility to know who they are transacting business with and are responsible for all funds that flow in or out of their account. 

Popular scams involving money mules are work from home offers, lottery/game awards, Secret Shopper programs, and inheritance scams. There is usually a money making component to these scams where a small percentage of the funds can be kept. Money can be received by cashier's checks or even electronic deposit in some cases. In most cases the checks are either counterfeit or stolen checks and electronic deposits can be money stolen from a victim elsewhere.

There is no good reason for anyone to allow a stranger to move money in and out of your own personal account. No legitimate employment would be processing their payroll through an individual personal banking account. If you ever did truly win a large lottery award you would not be asked to pay taxes and such up front. If money was stolen from elsewhere and deposited into your account, you could be held responsible both from a civil and criminal standpoint. 

If you ever have a suspicion due to a request to move funds through your own personal account, feel free to contact the management of your financial institution. I have personally assisted various credit union members over the years in preventing losses from scams and fraud cases. We would much rather help you before the fact rather than after! 

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