Ever heard the term “money mule?” It’s becoming common in cybercrime and isn’t always easy to spot.
A money mule is someone who is targeted to transfer and launder money that’s been acquired illegally. Scammers are experts at knowing how to coerce victims into helping with their requests by creating a false sense of trust.
According to the FBI, over 18,000 complaints were filed in 2018 with over $362 million in losses. This type of fraud ranked seventh in the most often reported scams to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
WSECU members aren’t exempt. Since August 1 of this year, 95 counterfeit checks totaling nearly $189,000 have been deposited by members as a result of money mule scams. Those most commonly experienced by our members are:
Online loan scams
These target people who are experiencing financial challenges and looking for loans online. They are asked to validate their accounts by allowing the “lender” to deposit money into the account and then sending the money back once the so-called validation has taken place.
Work from home scams
The initial contact takes place through social media. The work at home duties include helping the “supervisor” transfer funds.
Social media messaging scams
These are targeted at young people, who are offered a monetary reward in exchange for their online banking credentials. Fraudulent mobile deposits take place and the victims are asked to transfer the funds to the fraudsters via peer-to-peer transfers such as Venmo, purchase gift card or send wire transfers.
No one is immune to any type of fraud. Be aware of anything that seems suspicious and if you’re ever in doubt that you or your WSECU accounts have been scammed or compromised, contact us right away.