Money mules

What is a money mule?

Money mules are people who serve as intermediaries for criminals and criminal organisations. Whether or not they are aware of it, they transport fraudulently gained money to fraudsters. The use of intermediaries makes it difficult to figure out the identity of the fraudster.

Money mules, just like fraudsters, are guilty of illegally transporting fraudulently gained money and can be prosecuted for this.

How does a criminal work?

Money mules can consciously choose to act as intermediaries as a way to earn money easily, but money mules are often unaware of the fact that they are teaming up with a fraudster. Fraudsters also have their own techniques for approaching their victims...

You could receive a request via e-mail, a letter, a pop-up window or a telephone call to provide the requestor with your bank account number or to carry out an international transaction in exchange for a sum of money. These messages are often disguised as job adverts: you carry out transactions for a third party and are “honestly” paid for this. Money is actually deposited into your account, after which you must transfer that money to a foreign account via a financial services company. Sometimes the money mule receives commission in exchange for “services provided”.

What does a money mule message look like?

Fraudsters are getting ever more professional when creating their recruitment messages. While these messages often used to be written in broken English, we are now increasingly seeing message where the use of proper grammar is reasonably respected. The working methods that are explained in the messages to attract the money mule are also becoming ever more believable and therefore also more deceptive.

What does your bank do?

Banks submit complaints against money mules with the intention of criminal prosecution. This means that the mule will be less able to get a loan or other service from their own bank.

What can you do?

Never answer messages or give positive follow-up to telephone calls promising you large amounts of money in exchange for submitting your bank account number or requesting that you carry out international transactions for someone.

Also be suspicious of international job adverts promising you ample payment for just a few hours of work every month.

Always take care in the following situations; people are probably trying to recruit you as a money mule:

  • An apparently trustworthy site, a charity institution or somebody you met on the internet asks you to charge through an amount that will soon be deposited into your account;
  • A few days after you sold something on an auction site, you receive an e-mail from the buyer. The buyer accidentally paid you the purchase amount twice and asks you to deposit the surplus money into a different account.