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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is warning financial institutions of an increase in schemes to recruit individuals to receive and transmit unauthorized electronic funds transfers (EFTs) from deposit accounts to individuals overseas. These funds transfer agents, often referred to as "money mules," are typically solicited on the Internet by criminals who have gained unauthorized access to the online deposit account of a business or consumer. In a typical scenario, the criminal will originate unauthorized EFTs from a victim's account to a money mule's deposit account. The money mule is then instructed to quickly withdraw the funds and wire them overseas after deducting a "commission" (commonly eight to ten percent).
Criminals target online deposit accounts at institutions where business customers can originate EFTs, such as automated clearing house (ACH) and wire transfers, over the Internet. Money mules, however, can be customers at any depository institution where EFTs can be received and funds withdrawn. In some cases, the money mule may be an unknowing accomplice in a fraud scheme. Because EFTs are often made immediately available by the receiving institution, funds may be removed and wire transferred overseas before the fraud is detected. Refer to SA-147-2009 http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/specialalert/2009/sa09147.html for more information on fraudulent EFT schemes.
Money mule schemes can take many different forms, but most involve receiving unauthorized EFTs into a deposit account and then withdrawing the funds or forwarding them on to another party via another EFT. The following are common scenarios:
The following are examples of events that may indicate money mule account activity:
Money mule activity is essentially electronic money laundering addressed by the Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. Strong customer identification, customer due diligence, and high-risk account monitoring procedures are essential for detecting suspicious activity, including money mule accounts. Financial institutions can find additional guidance about customer identification, account monitoring, suspicious activity reporting, and identity theft red flags below:
FDIC Risk Management Manual of Examination Policies - Bank Secrecy Act
Financial institutions should act promptly when they believe fraudulent or improper activities have occurred, such as those of a money mule. Appropriate actions may include, but are not limited to, filing a Suspicious Activity Report and/or closing the deposit account in accordance with existing, board-approved account closure policies and procedures.
Cyber-fraud incidents and other fraudulent activity may be forwarded to the FDIC's Cyber-Fraud and Financial Crimes Section, 550 17th Street, N.W., Room F-4004, Washington, D.C. 20429, or transmitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions related to federal deposit insurance or consumer issues should be submitted to the FDIC using an online form that can be accessed at http://www2.fdic.gov/starsmail/index.asp.
For your reference, FDIC Special Alerts may be accessed from the FDIC's website at http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/specialalert/2009/index.html. To automatically receive FDIC Special Alerts through e-mail, please visit www.fdic.gov/about/subscriptions/index.html.
Distribution: FDIC-Supervised Banks (Commercial and Savings)
Note: Paper copies of FDIC Special Alerts may be obtained through the FDIC's Public Information Center, 1-877-275-3342 or 703-562-2200.
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