The U.S. government disrupted a series of networks through which transnational fraudsters moved the proceeds of their crimes.
In a coordinated operation involving the Department of Justice, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and six other federal law enforcement agencies over the last two months, action was taken against more than 2,300 money mules spread across 92 federal districts.
Money mules are individuals who assist fraudsters by receiving money from victims of fraud and forwarding it to the fraud organizers, many of whom are located abroad. Some money mules are assisting fraudsters without knowing that their actions enable fraudsters’ efforts to swindle money from consumers, businesses, and government unemployment funds.
The third annual Money Mule Initiative targeted money mules in every state in the country. A wide range of schemes including lottery fraud, romance scams, government imposter fraud, technical support fraud, business email compromise or CEO fraud, and unemployment insurance fraud were attacked.
The Department of Justice said in a press release that more than 35 individuals were criminally charged or arrested for their roles in receiving victim payments and forwarding the fraud proceeds to accomplices or laundering fraud proceeds. On approximately 30 instances, agents seized assets or facilitated the return of victim funds.
U.S. law enforcement agencies’ operations this year were four-folded when compared to last year. Action was taken against more than 600 money mules in 2019.
“Money mules fuel fraud against some of America’s most vulnerable populations, including old aged people. Attorney General William P. Barr vowed that the Department of Justice is committed to disrupting money mule networks in an effort to cut off the flow of funds from American consumers and businesses to transnational criminal organizations.
On Wednesday, Europol announced a simultaneous effort targeting money mules, named the European Money Mule Action (EMMA).
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