Scammers and hackers use money mules to help launder the proceeds of their crimes, and hide their identity from police.
Money mule recruiters pretend to work for well-known businesses in Canada and internationally, using legitimate employment job search websites.
When you are “hired”, your “employer” might say they are sending you money to deposit in your account so you can pay a client or supplier. Or they may ask you to forward money to another person to pay for the computer or office supplies you are going to need.
The purpose is to get you to receive stolen money in your bank account. The fraudster wants you to forward the money in a way that is hard for police to trace. If police start investigating, you could be the suspect because the funds were received into your bank account.
Some victims of lottery scams have been used as money mules. They are asked to receive money and forward all or a partial amount somewhere else to pay for taxes or fees on their prize. Sending money to collect a prize is always a scam.
In the online dating version of this scam, the fraudster sends you a cheque he claims he cannot cash, and asks you to forward the money back to him. If the cheque is the result of criminal activity, your account has just been used as a money mule.
If you are told that you will receive money and to forward part or all of that money to someone else for any purpose, know that this is a scam — no matter how reasonable the explanation.
Help prevent becoming a money mule:
- Don’t accept any job that asks you to transfer money or pay invoices from your personal banking account.
- Don’t send or forward cash to anyone you do not know or have not met in person.
If you believe your bank account has been used as a money mule:
- Stop all communications with the suspect(s).
- Contact your bank or credit card company.
- Keep all the information you have been sent by the suspect(s), including emails, text messages, QR codes for cryptocurrency wallets, etc., and contact VPD to report the fraud.
If you were recruited through a legitimate job searching website, report the fraudulent activity to the website.