There are many different ways to launder money when you are reaping the financial rewards of an illegal enterprise. One that has become increasingly popular in the cyber age is to recruit people — associates, friends and even strangers targeted on the internet — to “mule” the illegitimate funds through their own legal bank and/or investment accounts.
Are the targeted mules aware of their role in the schemes to launder ill-gotten gains? Well, that depends. Some definitely know and understand their roles. For others, the truth is a bit murkier to discern. Below are three different categories of money mules and what differentiates them.
Those who truly aren’t culpable
These situations often arise from an online romance scam where the mark is specifically targeted and “courted” by the scammer. They feel comfortable with their online interactions with the scammer. Then, when they are presented with a request to open an account or deposit money sent from overseas for a small percentage of the sum, they readily agree without realizing what their true role is.
The motivation for these individuals is purely financial. They like having an easy way to improve their fiscal situations and may turn a blind eye to the possibility that their efforts are funding terrorism or child pornography.
Prosecutors will allege that these folks either always knew they were breaking the law or became aware and willingly continued to facilitate the scam. They may be accused of bringing other “mules” into the operation.
If you stand accused of participating in a money muling scam, you must take these allegations very seriously. You and your criminal defense attorney can review the circumstances of your situation and determine the most effective defense strategy for you.