These scams prey upon lonely individuals looking to connect with someone, and can often take months to develop to the point where money changes hands. The emotional harm to the victim can be even more painful than the monetary loss. The spread of online dating sites and apps has made this fraud even easier to commit. Victims in the U. Because most people do not file complaints about romance scams with BBB or law enforcement, this may just be the tip of the iceberg.
What's a money mule scam?
What's a money mule scam? | FTC Consumer Information
The consumer watchdog is joining forces with government anti-money laundering agents to crack down on internet dating scams. The Australian transactions reports and analysis centre will alert the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ACCC when suspicious cross-border money movements suggest somebody is being scammed. The ACCC will then write to suspected victims with warnings to stop sending money, and in future might follow up with phone calls. Dating scams are the most costly in existence, often targeting the lonely and the elderly.
The most common online scams to watch for
Oftentimes, the con artists convince their marks to open bank accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds. The story may be spun further, and the scammer will ultimately convince the victim to open the account in their name or register a limited liability company and allow money transfers to flow into the account. In reality, however, the fraudsters transfer stolen money into the account and instruct their unsuspecting crime accomplices into forwarding the money to accounts controlled by the fraudsters. A recent report by the Better Business Bureau BBB said that up to 30 percent of romance scam victims in were used as money mules.
The FBI's internet crime division has issued a warning today about a rising trend in online scams where crooks are using online dating sites to recruit and trick victims into laundering stolen money. Groups who recruit money mules a term used to describe a person who launders money for criminal groups have been active in the past, but they usually employed different tricks and rarely operated via dating sites. Tricks that were popular in the past included fake job ads where the victims thought they were employed at legitimate companies, but they were actually shuffling stolen funds via fraudulently established LLCs; or fake business ventures, where victims thought they were partners in a legitimate business, but they were inadvertantly laundering money for a cyber-criminal. These are crooks who befriend a man or woman to establish a romantic or platonic relationship, and then abuse this to request money on various pretenses -- such as for airfare to visit, for bail after being imprisoned, legal fees, and other. But now, the FBI is warning that romance scammers active on online dating scams are changing their schemes, and instead of requesting money, they are recruiting victims to become money mules, and that this practice is becoming very popular.