Industry News

Don’t become another money mule, FBI warns

The hidden dangers of the digital world are slowly becoming clear, revealing more than the traditional phishing email or malware attack. Bad actors are not just after our personal or financial information, — they’re also working hard to find new candidates to help launder their stolen cash.

The FBI recently posted a warning about criminals exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to fuel their money mule schemes.There’s no better time for them to act, as uncertain times might push even the most cautious person into their trap.


Work from home jobs or new-found love interest

The money mule business is old news, and criminals will always need a scapegoat to help transfer illegally obtained money between bank accounts. Seasoned cybercriminals are very good actors, and often use social engineering techniques to groom victims to open new bank accounts or use existing ones to send and receive money.

Most money mules participate unknowingly in money laundering. How do bad actors recruit their victims? Most cases involve romance scams, remote job listings or easy-money advertisements posted on social media.

However, other scenarios linked to this illegal scheme have been found. This time it’s all about taking advantage of your charitable spirit and empathy. Individuals claiming to be U.S. citizens or service workers stationed abroad might contact you via email, social media messages or even phone.

They will ask you to send or receive money on their behalf or a family member that has contacted coronavirus and is currently ill. Even individuals who claim to be part of a charitable organization may ask you to help transfer donations on their behalf.

If you are in search of new job, you should be aware that the promise of a paycheck for little or no effort is always a bad sign. Here are the telltale signs of untrustworthy online jobs that should make you think twice before applying:

• Recruiters or employers use web-based services such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or Outlook to communicate with you
• To proceed with the ‘hiring’, you are asked to open bank accounts in your name or for the so-called business
• The employer will ask you to transfer the funds you receive to a Bitcoin account or via wire transfer, mail, Western Union and Money Gram
• You are allowed to keep a percentage of the money you help transfer

The Coronavirus pandemic has provided new ways for scammers to capitalize on the Internet users, and the recent FBI announcement should serve as a reminder of the various swindles you might face in the digital world. Easy money might cost you or your loved ones dearly. You’re not only endangering yourself financially by revealing your personal identifiable information, but you may also face severe legal consequences for unwittingly assisting the criminals.

Here at Bitdefender we focus on protecting your devices from malicious activity and threats of all kinds. Now more than ever, we need autonomy and safety as we interact with the world through our internet-enabled devices. That’s why we have extended the trial for our best security suite, ensuring that you can take care of your family’s devices for up to 90 days. If you’re already set up, why not make an unexpected gift to your loved ones who might not be aware of emerging cyber threats?

About the author

Alina Bizga

Alina has been a part of the Bitdefender family for some years now, as her past role involved interfacing with end users and partners, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She is a history buff and passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi. Her spare time is usually split between her two feline friends and traveling.