A new infographic released today by the American Bankers Association Foundation and the Federal Trade Commission highlights “money mule” scams—a type of scam in which criminals use their victims to move stolen funds. Money mule scams can take many forms, and commonly involve online dating, work-at-home jobs or prizes.
In a typical scam, the fraudster sends the victim money to deposit into a bank account and then asks them to send some of it to someone else, usually through a gift card or a wire transfer. When the initial check is later found to be fake, victims are on the hook for the full amount.
As the infographic notes, consumers can avoid money mule scams by never using their own bank accounts or opening a new account in their name to transfer money for an employer; never paying to collect a prize or move any money out of their “winnings”; and never sending money to an online love interest. If a money mule scam is suspected, consumers should break off contact with the scammer, inform their bank and report the incident to the FTC.