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Money Mule Scams on the Rise

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Money Mule Scams on the Rise


With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, money mule scams are on the rise. One in particular relates to unemployment benefits where people are getting caught up in the movement of illegal funds unknowingly. The article, “What’s a money mule scam?” from the Federal Trade Commission, explains what money mules scams are and how to protect yourself.

What is a money mule scam?

A money mule scam is where scammers send illegally earned money to a victim after they believe they either won a prize, stumbled upon a  work from home opportunity, or met someone through online dating who needs monetary help. After the scammer sends the victim money through gift cards or wire transfers, they will ask them to send some of it to a “third party” and keep a portion for themselves. The third party is the scammer's account. When the victim deposits the money to the scammer’s account, the scammer is less likely to get caught with illegal funds, and the victim is left to deal with the consequences.

How to avoid money mule scams

  • Do not accept any job that asks you to transfer money. This is not how normal business is conducted and is likely a scam.
  • Never send money to collect a prize.  If you have to send money to collect a prize, it doesn’t seem like a prize anymore. This is a money mule scam, and the scammer is trying to get you to move money for them.
  • Do not send money to or from an online love interest who has sent you money. This is a scam, and they are trying to get you to move stolen money.

What to do if you suspect you’re involved with a money mule scam

  • Break off contact immediately with the person you think is trying to scam you .
  • Notify your financial institution and the wire transfer or gift card company.
  • Report it to local law enforcement and  the Federal Trade Commission.

View the article from the Federal Trade Commission to learn more about money mule scams.

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