It seems like we hear a new story every day about someone who was the victim of a scammer or con artist. Many of these scams involve recruiting people to help launder their illegally obtained money. The scams can be either real life or online scams.
What is a money mule?
These people laundering money are called money mules. A money mule is someone who moves the illegal money around.
Money can be moved in many ways. Bank accounts, checks, prepaid debit cards and virtual currency are all used in scams involving money mules.
While sometimes people are moving the money intentionally to help criminals continue to run their businesses, many times people have no idea they are being used as a money mule. They may not find out until they are arrested and are facing criminal charges.
Signs to watch out for
There are several things you can do to prevent yourself from unknowingly becoming involved in someone’s criminal enterprise as a money mule.
If you use dating websites, be wary if you meet someone who asks you to send them money or give them any of your financial information. Dating sites are common targets for criminals looking for money mules.
Work-from-home jobs have become much more popular and common in the last few years. However, use caution if any work-from-home job involves cashing checks or depositing money in different places.
Research the company thoroughly to determine if it is legitimate before accepting a job. If your job asks you to open up a bank account or transfer money from an unknown account into your bank account, don’t do it.
Potential charges you could face
You could face various charges if you are arrested for your role as a money mule. Some include identity theft, money laundering and several types of fraud.
The penalties for these crimes are high, involving substantial fines and potential prison sentences. Experienced criminal defense attorneys who are familiar with how people become involved in these scams can help you mount a strong defense.