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Online Fraud and Money Mule Risks

On the Internet, there are plenty of job vacancies for a `Money Transfer Agent’. People also receive emails asking for help to transfer huge quantities of money from one country to another.

The overabundance makes one wonder about the genuine nature of these offers, and causes many job seekers to be suspicious.

What Are On-Line Frauds and Money Mules?

The sad fact is most of these online job offers are frauds and could lead to an inadvertent criminal record. It could also lead to an exclusion from the banking system for the naive job seeker who is drawn to such illegal activities.

The online job seeker is often used as an unwitting ‘money mule’ and led to misusing their bank account by laundering money through their account.

In 2012, the second most identified fraud was through misuse of bank accounts. More than 45,000 confirmed instances of such fraud were identified and several of them bore the hallmark of such ‘money mule’ activity.

Usually fraudsters use the money from illegal activities such as fake lotteries, boiler room frauds, drug dealing and investments, prostitution and people trafficking in such frauds.

They try to push ‘dirty money’ through in an effort to make it appear ‘clean’. Legally, accounts that are utilized to launder money must be closed and international regulators fine them heavily for failure to do so.

The Risks People Face from Online Frauds and Money Mules

You are at a risk of becoming a victim of online fraud, should you lose your personal information to others.

You and your family may face threats and be forced to perform online fraud. Different types of online frauds are:

  • Phishing – Fraud websites decked up to masquerade as genuine sites to steal usernames, passwords and banking information.
  • Money Mules – Lucrative fraudulent jobs offered to young adults and teens luring them into money laundering activities.
  • Online Bank Fraud – Numerous people bank online considering the convenience.

Online banking poses security risks involving Worms, Trojan Horses, imposter websites and fake e-mails, threatening to steal your credentials with each online transaction and purchase.

How Do Money Mules Work?

Fraudsters usually contact their prospective victims or money mules with advertisements for jobs via job search websites, Internet chat rooms or spam e-mails. They advertise the jobs as financial management work, adding that special knowledge for the job is unnecessary. Some fraudsters may also ask the mules to sign some official looking employment contracts.

Mules, once recruited, will receive funds into their accounts, most of them stolen from other compromised accounts. Mules will then be asked to take out the funds and forward them to overseas accounts typically using wire transfer services. For their services, they will receive a commission payment.

With their account being involved in the money laundering transaction, the mule also becomes an unwitting participant in the frauds.

How to Protect Yourself from Money Mule Frauds

Carefully inspect any unsolicited opportunity or offer to make easy money before you part with your personal information. Most of the frauds will be from overseas companies and it will be difficult for you to find out if they are authentic.

People phishing for information may replicate the website of a genuine company to entice you into their folds. They may even register a similar looking web address that adds authenticity to the fraud.

However, there will be subtle differences in the website URLs and web addresses and you must be extremely careful and alert to be able to detect the differences.

One simple way to ascertain the genuineness of such offers is to call the company who has purportedly placed the ads. By searching for and visiting the home page of the company, you will be able to find out their contact details.

Contact them with reference to the advertisement and you will immediately know if they are genuinely recruiting people.

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