The life of a money mule begins simply enough. An email arrives, often unsolicited, that asks whether or not you would like to change careers, receive copious amounts of money, and work unsupervised. Who wouldn’t want that? The job ads might call this position a payment processing manager, fund manager, transaction processing agent, or some other legitimate sounding name. Those who accept the position are instructed to transfer funds from one account to another, in the meantime gaining a percentage on the amount transferred. It seems like an easy job with more than adequate compensation so what’s the catch?
If you read the fine print you will see that this is just a basic money-laundering scheme. These money transfers the person engages in are illegal since the funds transferred are stolen. Those who participate could be fined or jailed. In the best case scenario, participating in such a scheme, even unknowingly, could result in a freezing of the victim’s account, while investigations go on.
There is another variation you should be aware of. Instead of transferring money over the wire some scams may ask you to deposit checks and then wire money elsewhere. The check will arrive in the mail and you go to cash it taking your promised percentage. The problem happens when the check bounces and the bank deducts the money from your account along with a fine after you have already wired the money elsewhere.