A money mule is someone recruited by fraudsters as a middle person to transfer illegally acquired money, whether they know or don't know they're being used for criminal activity.
A Lower Mainland company nearly fell victim to such a scam and Coquitlam RCMP are warning local residents to be aware of the signs.
Unbeknownst to them, the business was contacted by an out-of-province resident, claiming they bought a house and were moving to B.C..
The company received a deposit from the fraudster after they requested home improvements before the home possession date
Afterwards, the company was asked a favour to help the out-of-towner with moving and storage, even transferred more money to pay for the services.
According to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Alexa Hodgins, this is when the business became suspicious and questioned if the transactions were legit.
She said they contacted police and investigators determined the service places were fake following a series of internet searches
"The business owner did the right thing when he contacted the police to report the suspicious transactions," said Hodgins in a news release today (Oct. 11).
"With the increase in fraud reports in Canada, it is important that Canadians remain diligent, know what scams looks like, how to protect themselves and to always report them."
Hodgins explained no money was lost by the company when completing the fraudster's transactions, noting it could have been harder to identify them if the money was moved.
The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (CAFC) explained money mule scams are also conducted through prize and romance frauds.
If completed, this could ultimately lead the person or company victimized by the scam to be tied to serious crimes.
Coquitlam RCMP lists the following money mule prevention tips:
- Do not forward money on behalf of an unknown person or company if you receive funds from them
- Complete an internet search on the company or person that you are being requested to transfer funds to
- Be cautious when asked to conduct unusual or questionable financial transactions on behalf of a third party
Anyone with more information about a money mule scam, scams in general, fraud or cybercrime is encouraged to call Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550.
If you encounter a scam but are not victimized, Mounties advise you to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or go online to www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.