Don’t be a money mule!

If you haven’t come across the term before, a ‘mule’ or ‘money mule’ is someone used by criminals to launder funds that are the proceeds of crime. The mule receives funds, and then sends them on to an account specified by the criminal, usually earning a commission as payment for their service.

A popular way for fraudsters to recruit mules is via online or email scams. These take two main forms:

  • Job scams: Fraudulent job ads are posted on websites or sent via email. These offer a commission for receiving and transferring funds, and will try to entice unsuspecting targets with the chance to make money quickly and easily. The old adage holds true — if an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is!

  • Romance scams: These scams target vulnerable people, holding out the promise of a relationship. They can be quite sophisticated, taking advantage of popular online dating and networking sites, gaining the trust of their victims over a period of time before requesting a ‘favour’ involving money.

Be aware

A few tips for avoiding scams like these:

  • Be wary of any offer that looks too good to be true
  • Check where the offer comes from — if it’s overseas, it may well be a scam, because it’s harder for you to check up on. If it’s in Australia, you can check details such as address, etc
  • Be wary about sharing personal information
  • Don’t send money to people requesting financial assistance
  • Never send money by wire transfer as this cannot be recovered by banks
Find out more

You can find out more about money mules at the Australian Banker’s Association website  and at the Australian Federal Police website