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Three Ways to Avoid Money Mule Scams

Stay safe from a common type of fraud

After scammers steal money, they typically rely on innocent people to help them move the stolen money. They often find people on social media or online dating sites and make up a story about why they need you to send money to someone else, usually via gift cards or wire transfers. Obviously, they fail to mention the money is stolen.

Even if you aren’t aware the money is stolen, you can face legal consequences and financial risk if you serve as a “money mule”. Thankfully, there are three surefire ways to avoid most forms of money mule scams:

  1. Never forward money on behalf of an online romantic interest who sends you money.
  2. Don’t accept a job that asks you to transfer money or packages. These seemingly legitimate organizations may tell you to send money to a “client” or “supplier” but they may be using you to move stolen money.
  3. Don’t accept a prize award or grant money and forward some of the money.

If you believe you’ve been involved in this type of scam, stop the payment transaction and cease contact with the person or organization. Notify your bank or wire transfer service immediately, then notify the Federal Trade Commission. For more information, visit the FTC website.