A money mule is a person who transfers illegally obtained money on behalf of someone else, often without being aware of the illegal source of the funds. The money mule typically receives the funds into their personal bank account, and then transfers it to another account, usually in a different country, in exchange for a fee or commission.
This is a form of money laundering, as it helps criminals to disguise the origin of their illicit funds and avoid detection by law enforcement agencies. Money mules can be recruited through various means, including online job postings, social media, and personal contacts.
It is important to note that acting as a money mule is a criminal offence in most countries, and can result in imprisonment and other serious legal consequences.
The offence of Money Laundering carries a punishment of a fine not exceeding $500,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years or both. Non-individual could risk a fine of up to $1,000,000.
tips to avoid becoming a money mule:
- Be wary of job offers that seem too good to be true. High-paying jobs that require little to no experience or qualifications are often scams.
- Do not give out your personal or financial information to anyone, especially if they are not reputable organizations.
- Avoid any job that involves transferring money on behalf of someone else or receiving money into your account for someone else.
- Be cautious of unsolicited messages or job offers on social media or other online platforms.
- If you are unsure about a job offer, do some research on the company and the job description. Look for reviews or comments from others who may have worked for the company.
- Trust your instincts. If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is.
- If you suspect you may have been approached to become a money mule, report it to the authorities immediately.
Some syndicates are even more sophisticated, setting up “companies” and inviting unwitting mules to take on the role of a “Singapore representative” or “Singapore-based agent”, whose sole job is to open a new personal bank account and receive funds from similarly-unknown sources.
There has been a rise in such cases in Singapore, from 93 cases reported in 2012 and 133 cases reported in the first three quarters of 2013.