Money Laundering With Mules

Ever wonder what would happen if a phisher stole your bank account information? Phishers who want to stay in business won’t empty your account directly. They often operate in countries from which it is difficult to work directly with American banks. Plus they don’t want to lead authorities directly to them. So how do they get your money? Mules.

A mule is a go-between that phishers "use" to launder money. Phishers transfer money from compromised accounts to an account opened by the mule. The mule then withdraws those funds (minus a commission) and sends a money order to the phisher. Sounds easy enough, but who in their right mind would do this for a phisher? The paper trail leads directly to the mule, and money laundering is a serious offense.

So phishers have to be a little more creative in their recruiting practices.

This email showed up today and kicked off this post:

We are web designers/programmers team. We are located in Moscow, Russian Federation. Currently, our team works for several US companies and we have difficulty in getting our wages.

They’re to pay us but they don’t send money directly to Russia, because the companies we work for pay us by direct deposits available in USA and Canada only. Reasonable question: why don’t they pay us by checks? Yes, they could, but here in Moscow it is really hard to collect on the American checks (enormous commission fees and it takes 2-3 months).

We realize that you can’t provide your current bank account. So, if you are ready to help, would you be so kind as to open a new zero-balanced checking account where they could send our wages.

So, when our employers get the account information they will initiate the transfer. When the bank transfers are completed your assistance is needed once again to transfer the money via Western Union or Money Gramm (it is not the best (profitable) way but it’s the fastest one).

Finally, we have to solve the problem regarding your interest in this deal We suppose you should get an interest in this business and we can offer you a good compensation for your help. If you are ready to help, please, send your reply to the following email address…[edited]

Sounds more legit. I wouldn’t have to risk my own funds (no balance checking account), I’d make a little money, and help out a team of programmers who just want to get paid for work they have already done. I can see how these emails would be effective recruiting tools.

You’ve been warned 😉

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4 thoughts on “Money Laundering With Mules

  1. What keeps you, as the gullible mule, from keeping all the money deposited in your own account?

  2. Mark – good point. There is nothing to keep you from keeping the money. Except you would still be guilty of fraud/theft, etc and you wouldn’t be able to plead ignorance.

    Adam

  3. Great article, thank you! I haven’t seen a correlation between the quoted mail phishing mails.

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