Money mules serve the role of transferring stolen funds. Typically, money mules are unwittingly tricked into depositing a fraudulent check into a bank account or into receiving money from accounts without authorization of the account owner. In some cases, money mules know they are moving stolen funds and do so intentionally in exchange for receiving a portion of the money. The money mule moves stolen funds to a participant in the scam via an instant funds transfer or wire transfer, and the money is often unrecoverable and untraceable. The mule may come under investigation and may be required to pay back the money once the fraud is detected.
Those involved in money muling in any capacity may be investigated by federal and state law enforcement authorities. Investigators aggressively pursue individuals and organizations who are suspected of tricking people into becoming money mules. If you are accused of any involvement with a scheme to move illegal funds, a NY criminal defense lawyer at Bukh Law Firm, PLLC can provide you with guidance and advice on how to respond to charges. We have represented many accused money mules and will assist you in determining the best response to serious accusations.
What is a Money Mule?
A money mule is an individual who transfers or moves stolen funds. Money mules are often recruited through online job advertisements or through online dating services. Job ads may advertise for payment processors, money transfer agents, or local processors. In cases where mules are recruited through online dating services, they may be asked for help forwarding payments or forwarding money by someone posing as a romantic partner.
The mules receive money into their own bank account, typically through a wire or bank transfer, and then the mules wire the money to a recipient who is part of the scheme. The recipient is often, but not always, in a foreign country.
Instant services like Western Union are used to immediately transfer money from the mule’s account where the fraudulent funds were deposited. By the time it is discovered that the initial transfer to the mule was fraudulent or done without the permission of the account holder, the funds sent through Western Union or other instant transfer methods are untraceable and the transfer is irreversible. Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC TOP RATED ON:
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Top Rated Criminal Lawyer
Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC
TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
Types of Money Muling Scams
There are many different types of money muling scams including:
- Work-from-home scams. Fake job offers trick applicants into providing bank details so a deposit can be made. Once the fraudulent deposit or counterfeit check is put into the mule’s account, the mule transfers the funds. Work-at-home scams are perpetrated through online social networking and classified sites, job search sites, and spam emails.
- Secret Shopper Scams: This involves getting someone to “evaluate” or test a money-service business as a secret shopper. The shopper is told to cash a check (which is counterfeit) and then send funds via Western Union or MoneyGram to “test” these services.
- Romance money mules: Fake profiles are created on online dating sites, and a money transfer scam is arranged through emails, direct messages, or other methods of contact. A story is told to get the mule to wire money. Stories may include a claim of bank wire issues due to foreign accounts, or a need to get money to a sick family member in the mule’s home country. The mule agrees to accept funds and resend them using an instant money transfer service.
These and other scams can trick someone into money muling, and those who perpetrate the scams can be held accountable. There are also money mules who knowingly participate in forwarding stolen funds in exchange for receiving a commission or a fee- which can lead to charges for the intentional violation of U.S. banking and fraud laws.
Penalties for Money Muling
Because a financial institution is defrauded in money muling schemes, defendants may face a charge of bank fraud under 18 U.S. Code Section 1344. Any attempt to defraud a financial institution, or any attempted scam likely to result in obtaining money or items of value from a financial institution, can lead to this federal charge. Penalties for bank fraud can include a maximum $1 million fine and up to 30 years in prison.
Bank fraud is just one of many federal charges a defendant could face. Depending upon the type of money muling scam, charges could also be brought for computer crimes, consumer fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.State criminal charges under NY fraud and computer crimes laws are also a possibility.
How NY Defense Lawyers Help Money Mules
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides knowledgeable advice to clients in developing a strategy to respond to charges related to a money muling scam. We fight hard to help you reduce or avoid penalties that could result from a conviction for a money muling scam. Our attorneys negotiate plea agreements, get charges dropped, fight for dismissal, or help clients to win a not guilty verdict when faced with serious federal charges as well as when faced with state criminal proceedings. Call us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the legal services that we can offer.