Fraudsters are taking advantage of the uncertainty and fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, access your personal and financial information and use you as a money mule.
When criminals obtain money illegally, they have to find a way to move and hide the illicit funds. They scam other people, known as money mules, into moving this illicit money for them either through funds transfers, physical movement of cash or various other methods. Money mules are often targeted through online job schemes or dating websites and apps.
Acting as a money mule — allowing others to use your bank account or conducting financial transactions on behalf of others — not only jeopardizes your financial security and compromises your personally identifiable information, but it’s also a crime.
Protect yourself by refusing to send or receive money on behalf of individuals and businesses for which you are not personally and professionally responsible. The FBI advises you to be on the lookout for the following.
Watch out for online job postings and emails from individuals promising you easy money for little to no effort. Common red flags that you may be acting as a money mule include:
Watch out for emails, private messages and phone calls from individuals you do not know who claim to be located abroad and in need of your financial support. Criminals are trying to gain access to U.S. bank accounts in order to move fraud proceeds from you and other victims to their bank accounts. Common fictitious scenarios include:
If you are looking for accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, the CDC has posted extensive guidance and information that is updated frequently. The best sources for authoritative information on COVID-19 are www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov. You may also consult your primary care physician for guidance.
If you believe you, or someone you know, has been solicited to be a money mule, contact your local FBI field office in Portland: 503-224-4181 To report suspicious activity, visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.