Here's how criminals may recruit money mules to transfer their investments: RCMP

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Ten suspected money mules who investigators believe transferred funds on behalf of criminals were hand-delivered warnings last month as officials aim to crack down on investment fraud.

In a statement Monday, the RCMP and B.C. Securities Commission shared details about a joint operation conducted on May 29. Together, the agencies hand-delivered letters to people investigators say may be involved in fund transfers for criminals, perhaps unknowingly.

“The use of money mules is a common money laundering tactic, helping criminals move their ill-gotten gains by concealing the identity, source and destination of funds,” the joint statement said. “The BCSC identified the suspected money mules after uncovering information that they sent or received money or cryptocurrency that was obtained from victims of investment fraud.”

In some cases, investigators said, the individuals may not realize they’re transferring money on behalf of criminals and may be victims of a scam themselves.

Criminals may recruit money mules by offering a portion of the transferred funds as payment, promising job offers or lying about their identity and striking up an online friendship or romance to entice someone to help them with a transfer. Money mules may be asked to process payments, ship products or transfer money from a victim to the fraudster, investigators said.

“Money mules may think they are helping out a friend or romantic partner, or performing a task for an online job,” the joint statement said. “If money mules continue to send or receive funds on behalf of criminals after being warned not to do so, they could be charged with criminal or regulatory offences.”

Avoiding recruitment

Investigators offered several tips for the members of the public to avoid unwittingly becoming a money mule, including never moving funds on someone’s behalf if they’ve never met in person. Officials also said to avoid unsolicited email or social media messages that “promise quick money for little or no work.”

“If you have already received money or crypto assets from a person you met online, or suspect you have been the victim of investment fraud, immediately notify your bank or credit union, and report it to the BCSC, or the RCMP,” the agencies’ joint statement said.