On the 1st of March 2016, the campaign "Operation EMMA - European Money Mule Action" started, under the theme "Don't be a mule" (#dontbeamule).
This joint operation of EUROPOL, EUROJUST, EBF (European Banking Federation) and the Polícia Judiciária, aims to combat and prevent crime involving the "Money Mule", clarifying and alerting citizens to illegal activities linked to the crime of money laundering.
WHAT IS MONEY MULING?
Money muling is a type of money laundering. A money mule is a person who receives money from a third party in their bank account and transfers it to another one or takes it out in cash and gives it to someone else, obtaining a commission for it.
Seemingly legitimate job offers (e.g. ‘money transfer agents’) announced via online job forums, emails, social media (e.g. Facebook posts in closed groups, Instagram, Snapchat) or pop-up ads.
Newcomers to the country (often targeted soon after arrival) and unemployed people, students and those in economic hardship. the most likely targets are people under 35 years old.
WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS?
- The contact is established in person, through social media networks or instant messaging apps.
- The position does not list educational or experience requirements.
- All interactions and transactions will be done online. The offer promises significant earning potential for little effort.
- The nature of the work of the fake company can vary, but the specifics of the job being advertised always include using your bank account to move money, ‘local/national representatives’ or ‘agents’ to act on their behalf for a period of time, sometimes to avoid high transaction fees or local taxes.
- Emails with fake job offers are often awkward and badly written. The sender’s email address is likely to be from a free web-based service (Gmail, Yahoo!, Windows Live Hotmail, etc.) which does not match the company name.
WHAT TO DO?
- If you have received emails of this type do not respond to them and do not click on any links they contain.
- Stay alert for job ads and social media posts that promise easy money. Always report the account to the platform provider in order to be taken down and prevent other people from falling for the scam.
- Never give your bank account or any other personal details to anyone unless you know and trust them.
- If you suspect that you are caught up in a money mule or money laundering scheme, stop transferring money immediately, notify your bank or payment provider, and report it to your national police.