It's one thing to pull off a successful fraud online, it's another thing to get away with it -- when crooks order merchandise with stolen credit cards or make withdrawals with stolen bank details, they risk leaving a trail back to themselves.
That's where money mules kick in: "mostly penniless students, unemployed guys wrecked by austerity, illegal emigrants and a few iron-board stay-at-home moms with imaginary businesses" (per Bruce Sterling), who think they're involved in a legit work-at-home business that has them serving as cut-outs and laundries for stolen goods and cash. They get stolen funds transfered to their accounts, take a "commission," then transfer them on to someone else. A few hops later, the money lands in the fraudster's account, onion-routed through a bunch of stooges.
Europol can't catch the crooks, so they're targeting the stooges, in a crackdown that includes 159 arrests last week, and a spooky social media campaign with its own hashtag: #DontBeaMule.
* 159 arrested, 409 suspects interviewed by law enforcement, 766 money mules and 59 money mule organisers identified as a result of the European Money Mule Action ‘EMMA3’, a global law enforcement action week against money muling (20 to 24 November)
* Money mules are individuals recruited by criminal organisations as money laundering intermediaries to receive and transfer illegally obtained funds between bank accounts and/or countriesp>* EMMA3 saw 26 countries participating, as well as Europol, Eurojust, the European Banking Federation (EBF), 257 banks and private-sector partners
* The joint money muling awareness campaign #DontBeaMule kicks off today to alert the public to this crime
(via Beyond the Beyond)