Scammers are becoming increasingly intelligent and are developing new ways to access consumer funds and personal information. Here at CTFCU, our biggest priority is the financial wellness of our members, and that includes keeping them and their money safe. To ensure member safety, we put together this series to help you recognize the signs of fraud and ways to protect yourself.
Next in our series: Money Mule Scams
The FTC has seen an increase in money mule scams. “Money mules” are people who are used to transport and launder stolen money or merchandise. The scams are often related to work from home, lottery, and online dating schemes. Scammers will send money to victims by check or wire transfer to purchase “supplies” in the case of a work from home job. Sometimes the victim is even asked to rent a hotel room or apartment for the thief. For those involved in online dating scams, the victim is asked to send money to their new “significant other” to pay for a host of expenses. They will then ask to have a portion of the original funds sent back in cash, check, or by money transfer. If the fraudulent funds were sent via check, the check will return causing the victim’s account to become overdrawn. In the case of wired funds, the victim has now unknowingly divulged their account information. Some individuals have even mailed cash to the scammer, which is usually never recovered.
Avoiding a money mule scam can be simple, by avoiding offers that seem too good to be true. Never accept a job that requires you to cash your paycheck and send a portion of the funds back. Any supplies or equipment necessary to complete work related duties should be the responsibility of the hiring company. For any prize money awarded, taxes should be deducted before a check is issued. As always, be wary of sending money to significant others that you have not met in person. If you feel that you may be involved in a money mule scheme, notify your financial institution immediately. You can also report the instance to the FTC at ftc.gov/compliant.