In recent years, criminals have shifted to using money mules to move their dirty money out of the financial system. These criminals rely on money mules to safely and discretely launder the proceeds of their illegal activities.
Money laundering is a criminal offense punishable under Republic Act No. 9160, also known as the "Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA)"
DO NOT BE A MONEY MULE!!!
What is a Money Mule?
"A money mule is someone who transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of or at the direction of another. Criminals recruit mules to move money electronically through bank accounts, move physical currency, or assist the movement of money through a variety of other methods.
Once received, the mule will:
• wire the money into a third-party bank account;
• "cash out" the money received, possibly via several cashier’s checks;
• convert the money into a virtual currency;
• convert the money into a prepaid debit card;
• send the money through a money service business; or
• conduct a combination of these actions.
Money mules are inherently dangerous, as they add layers to the money trail from a victim to a criminal actor."1
How to know if you are being used as a Money Mule?
There are some individuals who are aware of their roles as money mules for illegally acquired funds, while others are victims of online scams who unknowingly serve as money mules. Criminals usually target college students, job applicants, online dating seekers, and retirees/elderly to fall for their fraud schemes.
To avoid the trap, the public is advised to watch out for the following suspicious signs:
• Receiving communications (via email, social media, or others) from unknown individuals/sources offering "easy money"schemes.
• Being asked by someone you met online to receive money in your bank/electronic money account, withdraw the funds, and give it to another unknown individual.
• Getting job offers from companies asking you to use your personal bank/electronic money account to "process" or "transfer" company funds.
Tips on how to stay safe online and avoid being a Money Mule
• NEVER GIVE your bank/electronic money account or any other personal information to untrusted or unknown sources.
• DO NOT ENTERTAIN calls from individuals claiming to be authorized bank/financial service representatives. Instead, you should directly communicate with your bank/financial service provider by contacting their official communications channels.
• DO NOT PROVIDE your financial information to someone you do not personally know, especially if you just met them online.
• AVOID THE TRAP of "easy money" schemes. If it seems too good to be true, it must be a SCAM.
• DO NOT ACCEPT any request to send or transfer money to/from your personal account, especially from unknown individuals or companies. If you think that you have received suspicious funds, do not touch the funds. Report the incident immediately to your bank or financial service provider and the police.
1 Money mule as defined by the Money Laundering, Forfeiture and Bank Fraud Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice.