What’s a money mule? Could you be one?

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2024 | White Collar Crimes

Criminal enterprises evolve with the times – but they’ve always been able to sweep ordinary people up in their schemes, often by preying on those who are naive, desperate or both.

One tactic that’s gained a lot of traction in recent years is the use of “money mules” to transfer ill-gotten gains through various accounts to hide their sources, get them across international borders and make them (eventually) seem legitimate. A “money mule” is any individual recruited for that purpose – and many of them are unwitting participants in much larger criminal organizations.

How do money mules operate?

Money mules are conned into moving funds from one account to another, typically through bank transfers, wire services or even in cash. They’re often given a “commission” for their services, so some believe they’ve found a legitimate, if peculiar, job opportunity. Money mules can be recruited through:

  • Work-from-home ads: Scammers post fake job listings looking for “payment processing agents” and “financial managers,” offering great wages for easy work.
  • Social media: Women, in particular, are often approached through social media and manipulated into romantic relationships with “single dads serving their country abroad” who start asking them to move money between their accounts as a favor.
  • Direct approaches: College students and other people who need quick cash and easy work are often approached with opportunities to go pick up packages or vehicles – either of which may be stuffed with cash – and drive them across the U.S. border.

Unfortunately, federal authorities can and will prosecute unwitting money mules. You can end up facing charges for everything from mail fraud and wire fraud to money laundering and more. If a job offer seems too good to be true or your new online “friend” starts asking for favors that involve money, you need to be skeptical – and protect yourself from harm.  

If you do make a mistake and end up facing charges, experienced legal guidance can help.


FindLaw Network
Gary Jay Kaufman
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