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Are you a money mule—but don't know it?

Police launching campaign to raise awareness about how fraudsters use unsuspecting victims to launder funds and proceeds of crime
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Police are launching a campaign from June 6 to 10 to raise awareness about how fraudsters are using unsuspecting victims as money mules to launder funds and proceeds of crime.

A news release says 2021 was a historic year for frauds with reported losses totaling $380 million, which was a dramatic increase from $164 million in losses in 2020. It is estimated that only 5 per cent of victims report their frauds to law enforcement or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC).

With the sharp increase in reported frauds and the noticeable prevalence of money mules, the partners want to educate Canadians on the various frauds that utilize money mules, in addition to providing general awareness to prevent victimization.

What is a money mule?

It's someone who is recruited by fraudsters to serve as a middle person to transfer stolen money. The mule may, or may not, be aware that they are a pawn in a larger network. When a mule moves money, it becomes harder to identify the fraudsters from the victims and can lead to victims being tied to serious crimes.

The money is often transferred using bank wire transfers, email money transfers, money services businesses and cryptocurrencies. Typically, mules get paid for their services, receiving a small percentage of the money transferred, but fraudsters may disguise these funds as "a payment from clients, a loan for a crypto investment, prize winnings" and much more.

A money mule is used in the money laundering process, which is an offense under the Criminal Code of Canada (Section 462.31).

On June 8, at 10 am, the CAFC and OPP will be hosting a Live Chat on social media discussing money mules and related frauds. The guest speakers will be Intelligence Researcher / Profiler, Nancy Cahill, CAFC, and Liaison Officer Acting Detective Sergeant John Armit, CAFC and more.

The partners will also be sharing more information, tips and links to various resources through their social media platforms. The public is encouraged to engage in the conversation to help recognize, reject and report frauds by using the hashtags #DontBeAMule, #kNOwFraud, #Take5, #Tell2.

If you are the victim of a scam, fraud or cybercrime, please contact your local police. It is also essential that you report an incident, whether you are a victim or not, to the CAFC via their Online Reporting System or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.

"At the CAFC, we continue to work tirelessly with law enforcement and partners to target fraudsters, recover funds and raise awareness about scams and fraud, but everyone has a part to play in fraud prevention and recovery,"  says Sergeant Guy Paul Larocque, Officer in Charge.CAFC. "With the notable increase in fraud reports in Canada, it is more important than ever for Canadians to know what scams and fraud look like, how to protect themselves and to always report them."

"Fraud is a criminal offence in Canada, with real victims and real impacts. What may seem like a harmless email or phone call, could result in devastating losses. Be vigilant and report incidents of scams and fraud to local police and the CAFC. By doing so, you will help us find the criminals, take down their networks and assets, prevent further victimization, and make Canada more resilient to fraud," adds Chris Lynam, Director General of the CAFC and National Cybercrime Coordination Unit, RCMP.