The U.S. Justice Department released the below:
The U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and six other federal law enforcement agencies announced the completion of the third annual Money Mule Initiative, a coordinated operation to disrupt the networks through which transnational fraudsters move the proceeds of their crimes. 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 know they are assisting fraudsters, but others are unaware that their actions enable fraudsters’ efforts to swindle money from consumers, businesses, and government unemployment funds. Europol announced a simultaneous effort, the European Money Mule Action (EMMA) today.
Actions were taken to halt the conduct of approximately 2,300 money mules, spanning 92 federal districts.
On approximately 30 instances, agents seized assets or facilitated the return of victim funds. Among the asset seizures was a 2019 Lamborghini, which was seized as part of an investigation into a business email compromise scheme.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service filed 14 administrative actions requiring money mules to cease facilitating fraud.
U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Consumer Protection Branch filed 17 civil injunctive actions seeking court orders requiring money mules to stop facilitating fraudulent activity. Districts filing those actions include the Western District of Washington, District of South Carolina, Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Florida, Central District of California, Northern District of New York, and District of Colorado.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California indicted three individuals for collecting parcels containing victim proceeds in a government imposter scheme.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland indicted three individuals for opening bank accounts using falsified documents for the purposes of facilitating a business email compromise scam.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas indicted an individual for facilitating a lottery fraud scheme. The indictment also seeks to forfeit over $1.2 million.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio indicted two money mules who facilitated a grandparents scam.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia charged a money mule who laundered gift cards purchased by fraud victims.
In January 2020, the department designated “Preventing and Disrupting Transnational Elder Fraud” as an Agency Priority Goal, one of its top four priorities. In March 2020, the department announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 400 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep. The department has also conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.
Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available.