A "Money Mule" is a person who voluntarily provides his or her data because he or she wants to make easy money because criminals often offer "fast money" for participating in a fraud scheme with corresponding offers. They are often aware that they are breaking the law. However, there is no proof that they are aware of all the consequences.
The overall process of the "money mules" is that they either open a bank account themselves and then give access and full control to the criminals. Or the fraudsters open the accounts with their data. Both ways enable them later to carry out various financial misappropriations, such as money laundering, modern slavery or terrorist financing.
How are Money Mules recruited?
Money Mules are often recruited through social media. Even if these posts are discovered and deleted by regulators, it is easy for criminals to re-post fraudulent ads.
What are the possible consequences for identified Money Mules?
First, all bank accounts (both fraudulent and non-fraudulent accounts) are often closed or the money is frozen. After Money Mules are caught in these criminal activities, it is also difficult for them to get credit, e.g. for phone contracts, student loans and future loan applications. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to be convicted - individuals can be sent to prison for up to 14 years.
Such actions leave a mark on criminal records, with further consequences - they can also make it more difficult to find a job, especially if it is in the field of data protection. It is important to highlight this, especially as nowadays almost every job has something to do with data protection, for example, payments.
What is the difference between money mules and social engineering?
It is also very important to distinguish between "money mule" and "social engineering" scenarios. Money Mules" are involved in the fraud scenarios and cooperate as part of the criminal scheme.
In a social engineering scenario, a person is seen as a victim of fraud. Their cooperation with the fraudsters is not so obvious, as they are involved through psychological manipulation. These victims are usually unaware that they are breaking the law with their behaviour. They are tricked into opening accounts, e.g. through job advertisements.
How does IDnow deal with money mules?
As a provider of a KYC platform and solutions of, among others, Anti-Money Laundering Screening & Monitoring, IDnow takes criminal activities/fraud such as "Money Mules" very seriously. In combination with our platform, IDnow employs a dedicated team that is constantly working to prevent these types of fraud. As a trusted partner with very high-security standards, IDnow is constantly working to prevent fraudsters from entering business customers' systems and of course, it is also very important for IDnow to protect private individuals from being scammed.
More info in our latest blog article: Understanding ‘Money Mules’ – an interview with IDnow fraud specialists