U.S. law enforcement agencies took action against more than 2,300 money mules over the last two months as part of the third annual Money Mule Initiative, a coordinated operation between the Department of Justice, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and six other federal law enforcement agencies. That figure was up from just 600 actions that resulted from last year’s initiative.
This year’s effort resulted in actions in every state in the U.S. targeting money mules involved in a wide range of schemes including lottery fraud, romance scams, government imposter fraud, technical support fraud, business email compromise or CEO fraud, and unemployment insurance fraud—many of which were directed toward elderly or vulnerable members of society.
Law enforcement served approximately 2,000 money mules with warning letters, and in approximately 30 instances, seized or facilitated the return of victim funds. In addition, more than 35 individuals were criminally charged or arrested for their roles in receiving victim payments and forwarding the fraud proceeds to accomplices or laundering fraud proceeds.
The DOJ also acknowledged ABA’s efforts to engage with member banks on money mules and highlight the role of financial institutions in addressing the problem. As part of this effort, the ABA Foundation will host a webinar on Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. with speakers from the DOJ and the banking industry on the Money Mule Initiative and how banks can participate, as well as how to recognize money mule scams and educate their customers.