Easy Money or Money Mule?

A money mule acts as a layer of distance between a scammer and their victims by handling stolen funds on behalf of someone else, either knowingly or unknowingly. Money mules make a scam harder to trace and the money harder to find.

Beware of offers that promise quick cash or a commission in exchange for receiving money and then sending it to someone else. This may take the form of a fake job opportunity, investment scheme, or prize award.

As an example, the scammer may approach an unsuspecting victim online or by phone with the promise of a financial windfall. In some cases, they may send the person a lump sum, ask them to transfer a portion of it to another account, and keep the rest for themselves. It sounds like easy money, but acting as a money mule is illegal, even if the person is unaware they are committing a crime.

Another tactic is for a scammer to say that they’re unable to receive funds through a particular payment method and need someone else to help by accepting a payment into their bank account. In reality, they are scamming someone out of funds and using another person as a middleman to help cover their tracks. After the money transfers are completed, the money mule could be held criminally responsible for their participation, whether they knew it was a scam or not.

Protecting Yourself from Money Mule Scams

It’s important to only send and receive money with those you know and trust. If a stranger requests that you handle money for them, stop communicating with them immediately. If you find that an unexpected deposit has been made in your account and a stranger calls and claims it belongs to them, hang up and contact First American Bank at (847) 952-3700.

To learn about other scams, and ways to protect yourself, visit zellepay.com/pay-it-safe.

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Zelle® and the Zelle® related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.
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