Uncle Sam Strangles Criminals’ Cash Flow By Reining In Money Mules

Uncle Sam announced its commenced over 4,000 legal actions in three months — mostly harshly worded letters — to rein in “money mules” involved in romance scams, business email compromise, and other fraudulent schemes.

Money mules are the individuals who provide money transfer services — occasionally unwittingly — to launder robbery funds. Some of these people are willing participants in the fraud, receiving money from victims and then transferring it to the crooks. Others, however, are unwitting tools – asked to accept and pass on payments without understanding they’re assisting criminals to shift cash.

The law-enforcement actions targeted both groups. This includes criminal prosecutions against those who knowingly helped fraudsters, as well as warning letters sent to those who the Feds think maybe didn’t realize their role in the larger criminal ecosystem.

US federal agencies involved in the operation include the FBI, the Justice Department, Homeland Security Investigations and the US Postal Inspection Service (USPS). 

Yes, the US Post Office played a role in a crackdown that involved serving some 4,000 letters warning people that their activities are facilitating fraud. Then it was back to delivering all those ecommerce packages.  

“Anyone can be approached to be a money mule, but criminals often target students, those looking for work, and those on dating websites,” USPS Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the Criminal Investigations Group said in a statement. “When those individuals use the US Mail to send or receive funds from fraudsters, postal inspectors are quick to step in

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