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Money Mules are people who consciously or innocently  serve as intermediaries  to move stolen/illegal money using  their bank account(s) on behalf of criminals/fraudsters. While we have known of only rare cases in Bhutan, lots of these are happening around the globe.

How does it happen:

  1. The criminal will get in touch with the victim via email, instant messaging apps, job website, blogs or even phone calls.
  2. They will  convince the victim into providing their bank account details  with either an attractive job , commissions or by seeking sympathy.
  3. The Fraudsters will transfer an amount into the victims account.
  4. Then the victim is asked to withdraw the amount  and transfer them using payment transfer services like Western Union to an account,  usually in another country where criminals can then withdraw it and cashout that transaction, while allowing them to retain small amount as commission.

Since this process obscures the identity of the criminal, when such incidents are reported, the money mule becomes the target of police investigations, due to their involvement and just like fraudsters, are guilty of illegally transporting fraudulently gained money and can be prosecuted for this.

Thus, BtCIRT urges the public to be wary of requests to receive and transfer money, especially from parties you do not know, or have only known them via online medium. Following are some of the precautionary steps you can take  to avoid falling victim to these criminals:

  1. Never respond to calls or emails asking for bank account details, unless you are sure of who the person behind is.  Sometimes it might seems to be from bank or from your friends but might not be the case, always verify. Refer BtCIRT’s advisory: https://www.btcirt.bt/protection-from-phishing/  for more details on phishing.
  2. Before you apply for any jobs online always verify the identity and contact details of employing company. Verify their identity by contacting related national organisation if those are located overseas.
  3. Don’t be lured by “too good to be true offers” . Listed are few of frequently used words: work from home, easy earning, no qualification requirement, no experience, work less, earn more, while few others look very genuine.
  4. Report to police or BtCIRT if you come across such incidents.

Some samples of emails used for victimizing users into believing the fraudsters:

References:

  1. https://www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/consumer/advice/money-mule-scams/
  2. http://www.acfe.com/article.aspx?id=4294989601
  3. https://www.police.gov.sg/resources/prevent-crime/commercial-crimes/prevent-crimes/crime-prevention-advice/money-mules
  4. https://www.police.gov.sg/resources/prevent-crime/commercial-crimes/prevent-crimes/crime-prevention-advice/money-mules
  5. https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/public-awareness-and-prevention-guides/money-muling
  6. https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-money-muling