U.S. Law Enforcement Disrupts Transnational Fraud Schemes By Targeting Over 3,000 Money Mules

Sixth Nigerian National Pleads Guilty to International Fraud Scheme Targeting Elderly Victims in the U.S.

In a concerted effort to combat transnational fraud schemes, the Justice Department, along with the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and other federal law enforcement agencies, has concluded the Money Mule Initiative.

This annual campaign aims to identify, disrupt, and prosecute networks involved in facilitating the transfer of funds from fraud victims to international fraudsters.

Money mules play a crucial role in various fraud schemes, including those targeting older Americans, such as lottery fraud, romance scams, and grandparent scams, as well as schemes directed at businesses or government pandemic funds.

During this year’s initiative, law enforcement agencies took action against over 3,000 money mules involved in facilitating a range of fraud schemes.

These actions included criminal prosecutions against individuals knowingly aiding fraudsters and issuing warning letters to individuals who might have been unwittingly recruited by fraudsters.

Additionally, outreach efforts are underway to educate the public about the tactics used by fraudsters and how to avoid becoming involved in fraudulent activities.

Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer emphasized the Justice Department’s commitment to safeguarding Americans from fraud, highlighting the collaboration with federal partners to disrupt money mule networks, raise public awareness about scams, and prosecute criminals involved in fraudulent activities.

Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division underscored the bureau’s determination to pursue individuals involved in illegal fund transfers, stating the importance of prosecuting those facilitating fraud schemes while also educating consumers about the risks associated with illicit money mule networks.

Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of USPIS emphasized the significance of dismantling criminal networks that inflict financial harm, particularly on vulnerable populations like older Americans.

The Money Mule Initiative was coordinated by the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, FBI, and USPIS, with participation from other agencies such as the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

As part of the initiative, law enforcement agencies issued approximately 2,970 warning letters to individuals involved in facilitating fraud schemes, many of whom were initially victims of romance or lottery scams. These letters aimed to educate and deter individuals from continuing to engage in activities that assist fraudsters.

Additionally, more than 20 individuals were criminally charged for knowingly receiving and forwarding victim funds or laundering fraud proceeds. These cases involved various fraudulent activities targeting vulnerable populations, including the elderly.

Law enforcement agencies are also focused on raising public awareness about the recruitment tactics used by fraudsters and the risks associated with becoming involved in fraudulent activities. IRS-CI launched a public awareness campaign, while the Justice Department and USPIS collaborated with the American Banking Association Foundation to educate banks about detecting and preventing money mule activities.

Consumers are urged to be vigilant and cautious of individuals attempting to recruit them as money mules. They are advised not to agree to receive money or checks on behalf of strangers or open bank accounts at someone else’s direction. Reporting suspected fraud and financial losses due to fraudulent activities is crucial in combating fraud and recovering losses.

For victims of financial fraud, especially those aged 60 or older, the National Elder Fraud Hotline (1-833-FRAUD-11) provides personalized support and assistance. Reporting instances of fraud can help authorities identify and apprehend perpetrators, increasing the likelihood of recovering losses.