U.S. Law Enforcement Targets Fraud Facilitators, Doubling Last Year’s Enforcement | USAO-EDTXDecember 3, 2021
BEAUMONT, Texas — The Department of Justice, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and five other federal law enforcement agencies announced the completion of the fourth annual Money Mule Initiative, which targeted networks of individuals through which international fraudsters obtain proceeds of fraud schemes. These individuals, sometimes referred to as money mules, receive money from fraud victims and forward the illicit funds, often to overseas perpetrators.
By receiving and transferring illicit funds, money mules facilitate a wide range of fraud schemes, including those that often predominately impact older Americans — like romance scams and lottery fraud — and those that target companies through business e-mail compromise schemes. Money mules also assist the theft of funds earmarked for pandemic relief, including unemployment insurance and small business loan funds. Some money mules are aware that their actions facilitate international fraud schemes. Others, however, first interact with fraud schemes as victims and may be unaware that their actions are furthering criminal activity.
U.S. law enforcement took action to address 4,750 money mules over the last 10 weeks; enforcement actions occurred in every state in the country. These actions more than doubled the number of actions taken during last year’s effort. Agencies are also conducting outreach to educate the public about how fraudsters use money mules and how to avoid unknowingly assisting fraud by receiving and transferring money.
“Without money mules, many foreign fraudsters targeting American consumers, businesses and pandemic relief funds could not reap the proceeds of their schemes,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “The department and its partners will use every tool at our disposal — consumer education, disruption and prosecution — to cripple foreign fraudsters’ ability to get money from victims’ pockets to perpetrators’ bank accounts.”
Law Enforcement Actions
The department’s Consumer Protection Branch and the FBI led the initiative with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Other participating agencies were the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The campaign was conducted simultaneously with a Europol initiative, the European Money Mule Action (EMMA). Additionally, in several districts, including the District of Arizona and the Northern District of Georgia, federal law enforcement have been working closely with their state and local law enforcement counterparts.
“This year’s Money Mule Initiative successfully halted the activity of hundreds of money mules worldwide thanks to the persistence and partnership of the FBI and our federal, state, local and international partners,”…