How to Spot a Money Mule Scam

Scammers are continuously trying to obtain your money and information, and they may even go as far as tricking you into illegally sending them funds. Over the past few weeks, there has been an increase in people unknowingly participating in money mule scams, and landing themselves in not only financial trouble but legal trouble as well.

What is a Money Mule Scam?

A money mule scam is when a fraudster obtains money illegally, and they need to launder the money back to themselves. So, they scam people into transferring the money for them. These folks become the “mule,” and accidentally take part in an illegal transfer of money.

This scam can happen in a few different ways, such as a scammer offering a fake work-at-home job opportunity or pretending to be an online romantic interest. The scammer will often send money via check for office supplies or even as a gift, and majority of the time the check will be made out for more than originally stated. The scammer will sometimes claim they made a mistake, and ask you to cash the check and wire the extra funds to a different account.

However, because all this happens quickly, by the time you realize that the check is fake, the money is long gone.  

Legal & Financial Ramifications

Taking part in a money mule scam can open yourself up to legal and financial repercussions. Even if you unwittingly participated in a money mule scam, it is still illegal and can be prosecuted.

In addition to facing legal trouble, you may also experience financial issues. Not only will you be on the hook for the insufficient funds in your bank account, but your identity could be stolen. This will depend on how much personal information was shared with the scammer, but your credit and financial assets could be at risk.

How to Avoid a Money Mule Scam

We know that avoiding fraudsters can be difficult, so here are some tips to help:

  • Do not open an account at someone else’s direction 
  • Do not forward money from a new online romantic interest who sends you money
  • Do not accept a job that requests you to frequently send “clients” or “suppliers” money or packages
  • Be leery of unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls that promise you money with little to no effort
  • Do not purchase gift cards on someone’s behalf
  • Do not pay to collect a prize or send someone money out of your “winnings”

Report a Scam

If you suspect or determine that the person you are talking to is a scammer, authorities advise to break off all communication immediately and do not send them any money or personal information. Notify your bank and law enforcement right away, you may even want to consider changing bank accounts to protect your funds.

It’s also just as important to report scams to the Federal Trade Commission so that other members of your community can be on the lookout. You can file a report with them here:

Blackhawk Bank is Here for You

We want to make sure your information and hard-earned money doesn’t end up in the hands of a fraudster, so stay vigilant about who you give your information out to. If you want to learn more about how Blackhawk Bank can help you, contact us today!



Jessica Hendon

VP Physical & Information Security

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