Layout Image

What is a Money Mule?

Money mules are innocent victims duped by criminals into laundering stolen money. Criminals steal hard-earned money from small businesses and people, and they use money mules to  launder the stolen money and move it out of the country.

Money mules frequently become victims of theft and fraud as well.

Money mules are recruited through online job postings, newspaper advertisements, chat sessions, social media and online sales.

Common scams include:

  • Mystery Shopper Scams
  • Lottery Scams
  • Foreign (“Nigerian”) Scams
  • Employment Scams
  • Romance Scams

These criminals are sophisticated and very good at what they do – which is using you to help them steal money. They use legitimate job search and online dating sites and can create professional looking business sites to fool you into believing them.

Every day, innocent people are duped and taken advantage of. Here are two stories of people just like you who became victims:

Darlene, age 33, was a victim of a romance scam. Her story is typical of what victims go through, and the consequences she now faces are serious.

“I met ‘John’ on the dating site I was a member of, and we hit it off right away. He was handsome, charming, appeared to be very successful, and even better, he acted as if I was the girl of his dreams.

Although we had never met in person because he lived in Russia, I fell for him pretty hard. I was head over heels for John, and he said he was falling for me too.

One day while chatting, John said he wanted to visit me. I was thrilled. He told me he had a friend in the U.S. who would send a certified check. He asked me to cash the check and wire the money on to him so he could come see me.

I really didn’t think anything of it, so I did as he asked. Suddenly, John disappeared. I never heard from him again.

I was heartbroken, obviously. Still, I didn’t think I had done anything wrong until my bank called me to inform me that the check I had cashed bounced and they would be taking the money out of my account. Next thing I knew, the police were calling me, and I was informed that I was being investigated.

John wasn’t the man of my dreams. He was a criminal who was laundering money for the Russian mob and he used me to help him do it. He broke my heart, broke my bank account and broke my bank’s trust in me.”


Peter, age 51, had a similar experience through a job search website. Having been unemployed for eight months, he was desperate for work and became an easy victim of this scam:

“I was desperate for work, so when I saw the ad to work from home and make money, I was eager to find out more. I could no longer afford daycare for my child, I was at the end of my savings, and I had to find a way to make money.

I was hired as an “employee,” and the first thing I was required to do was to open a bank account and email them the account information. I soon got an email saying that I received a wire for my first job. The position required me to withdraw the money, send it on through a money transfer service to another account and keep 10 percent as my commission.

After I did that, my bank called me the next day and informed me that the wire I had received was fraudulent and the money had been stolen from someone else. I was questioned by the FBI, informed that my activity was illegal and my bank closed my account.

I still don’t have a job, and the authorities say I have to pay that money back. I’m worse off now than ever before, and I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”