US DoJ takes action against "money mules".

News Desk

Persisting in its use of the misleading term "money mules" for people who, wittingly or unwittingly, allow their bank accounts to be used as a staging post in a money laundering scheme, an annual national campaign has this year taken action against more than 3,000 people who have done just that.

The Justice Department, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and other federal law enforcement agencies has announced the completion of the Money Mule Initiative, an annual campaign to identify, disrupt, and criminally prosecute networks of individuals who transmit criminally derived funds. It has focussed on fraud, particularly against the elderly, and on international transfers.

The actions include prosecution and, for those who are victims more than conspirators, help and guidance.

The Department of Justice said "Participating agencies served approximately 2,970 letters warning individuals that their actions were facilitating fraud schemes. Many money mules begin as victims of romance or lottery scams and are unknowingly lured by fraudsters into transmitting fraud proceeds based on lies. Other money mules are recruited into what they initially believe to be legitimate work-at-home jobs. In order to educate and deter these types of unknowing money mules, the letters served by law enforcement warned individuals that their activities are facilitating fraud and outlined the potential consequences of continuing to transmit illegally acquired funds."

How many of that 3000 "actions" were prosecutions? "More than 20 individuals were criminally charged for knowingly receiving and forwarding victim funds or otherwise laundering fraud proceeds. "

Although the headlines concentrate on romance fraud and crimes against the elderly, the prosecutions are actually for so-called "business e-mail compromise fraud", tech support fraud etc. However, one organised fraud in New Jersey - "five defendants for allegedly acting as couriers who went to the homes of elderly victims of a grandparent scam to pick up cash, often using false names and providing victims with fake receipts. The couriers then took the cash to other members of the conspiracy, who sent the victims’ money to the Dominican Republic."

The DoJ said "The agencies involved in this effort urge consumers to be on the lookout for signs someone is trying to recruit them to receive and transmit fraud proceeds. Do not agree to receive money or cheques mailed to you or sent to your bank account for someone you have met over the phone or online. Do not open a bank or cryptocurrency account at someone else’s direction. Fraudsters will lie to persuade you to help them. They may falsely tell you that they are helping you get a lottery prize, initiate a purported romantic relationship and then tell you that they need money, or pretend to offer you a job, an opportunity to invest in a business venture, or the chance to help in a charitable effort."


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