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What is a Money Mule? 

A money mule is someone who acts as a middle person to transfer money generated by illegal or criminal activity.

A money mule is an individual who acts as a middle person to transfer money generated by illegal or criminal activity (also known as dirty money). The mule may or may not be aware they are a pawn in a larger network. When a mule moves money, it becomes harder to identify the criminals from the victims, and can lead to victims being tied to serious crimes. 

Money is often moved using bank wire transfers, email transfers, or crypto assets. Typically, mules get paid for their services, receiving a percentage of the money transferred, but fraudsters may disguise these funds as “a payment from clients,” “a loan for a crypto investment,” “prize winnings,” or other made-up stories. 

People who move money for criminals can be criminally charged for possession or laundering the proceeds of crime. If the money is part of an investment fraud scheme, moving money for others can also lead to allegations of misconduct under BC’s Securities Act

How do People Become Money Mules? 

Criminals use a variety of tactics to recruit money mules, often offering a portion of the transferred funds as an incentive. The criminals may lie about their identity, promise job offers, or start an online friendship or romance. The criminals may ask people to “process payments,” “transfer funds,” or “re-ship products” to move money from investment fraud victims to the criminals. 

In some cases, the mule may not realize they’re transferring money on behalf of criminals, and they may also be victims of an investment scam themselves. Money mules may think they are helping out a friend or romantic partner, or performing a task for an online job. 

Protect Yourself and Others from Becoming Money Mules 

Money mules who send or receive funds on behalf of criminals could be charged with criminal or regulatory offences. If you are asked to transfer money by an online friend, romantic partner, or someone offering you so-called easy money, you may be talking to a money mule recruiter. 

Here are steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming an unwitting money mule: 

  • Don’t move money on someone’s behalf if you haven’t met them in person. 
  • Ignore unsolicited email or social media messages that promise quick money for little or no work. 
  • Be skeptical if you’re asked by an employer to receive money in your bank account and then “process” or “transfer” it as part of your job. 

If you’ve already received money or crypto assets from a person you met online, or suspect you have been the victim of investment fraud, immediately notify your bank or credit union and report it to the BCSC. 

Report a Concern 

If you have any concerns about a person or company offering an investment opportunity, please contact the BCSC Contact Centre at 604-899-6854 or 1-800-373-6393, or through email at [email protected]. You can also file a complaint or submit a tip using the BCSC’s online complaint form

InvestRight.org is the BC Securities Commission’s investor education website.Subscribe to receive email updates from BCSC InvestRight. 

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