Money mule scams are becoming more common in Australia, with criminals recruiting victims through job ads and romance offers.

Money mules transfer the proceeds of crime – such as fraud or scams – into a third party’s bank account to hide them from authorities.

Sometimes, unsuspecting victims get caught up in these scams because they’re disguised as an employment opportunity or even a new romance.

Here’s how people get caught out and how you can help stop it from happening to you.

How money mule scams work

Money mules are intermediaries who act on behalf of other criminals, who are trying to launder or hide money derived from crime.

To cover their tracks, money mules may try to recruit new people to get involved in the transfer of large sums of money.

One common way of recruiting new people is under the guise of a legitimate employment opportunity, where the employee can earn sums of money quickly by making transfers. Another way involves a potential partner asking their online match to transfer money for them.

Shielding yourself from a money mule scam

These scams can be quite sophisticated, with fraudsters creating legitimate-looking email addresses and websites to reduce their chance of being detected; however, there are often red flags. The following tips may help:

• The old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ applies when it comes to money mule scams. Beware of any offers of large sums of money for minimal or easy work.
• If you’re offered a job, conduct research on the company, including their ABN, how long the company has been registered and who its director/owner is. Be extra wary of businesses that are listed overseas.
• Ask a trusted friend or family member for advice if something seems fishy.
• Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know or have not met in person.
• Protect your banking details and update your passwords periodically.
• Always treat links in emails and text messages with caution.

What to do if you think you’ve already been scammed: Immediate actions to take

If you believe you’re the victim of a money mule scam, it’s important to report it to both the police and your bank as soon as possible. Call our Hunter-based Contact Centre Team during business hours on 1300 688 825. The sooner you contact us, the more likely it is we may be able to stop the transactions. However, some transactions – such as wire transfers – cannot be stopped.

Money mule scams can involve identity theft. After you’ve spoken to us, consider contacting IDCARE – the national identity and cyber support service – on 1800 595 160.

You can also report the scam to Scamwatch, the website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to help consumers.

Remember, The Mutual Bank may contact Members from time to time but:

• We will never ask you for your full card details including your CVV.

• We will never ask for your passwords, access codes or One Time Password.

• We will never ask you to make a transaction on your account.

• We will never ask you to download a program or request remote access to your device.

Learn more about how we protect your account and information here.

Report a suspected fraud here.

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