To people who have never found themselves in that position, it may seem impossible to believe that you can end up one of the cogs in the machinery of a criminal enterprise without realizing it – but it happens.
Usually, people do catch on that they’re somehow being used, but they may not know exactly how. By then, they may feel pressured – or be threatened – into staying involved, despite the risks.
That’s what often happens to “money mules.”
What’s a money mule?
There’s a lot of money involved in crimes like human trafficking, arms dealing and drug trafficking, and most of it is being handled in cash. Large amounts of cash can’t be transported around without attracting a lot of attention, so criminals get creative about roping other people into the process.
Many money mules are chosen precisely because they’re either desperate for work and aren’t looking carefully at the situation or because they’re naive and unaware of the danger they’re in. Money mules can be of any age, and they can come from any walk of life.
How do you know you’re being targeted by a criminal organization to become a money mule? Here are some signs:
- You’re offered a job that requires you to pick up a package at a strange location, like an empty shopping mall, and deliver it to an unmarked “business.”
- You’re offered any kind of job that pays well, in cash, for very little work, and there are few (or no) skill requirements.
- You’re asked to open a bank account in your own name to move funds for “the company” or asked to “process” a check in some way.
- You’re told to take your payment from the money you transfer.
- A person you met on social media romances you and then asks you to do a “favor” involving a money transfer.
If you get caught muling money, you may face some serious charges when you really should be treated as a victim. If that happens to you, make sure that you have experienced legal guidance from the start.