European peer-to-peer lending platform October has warned its lenders to avoid unknowingly becoming money mules.
Money mules are people who are often unwittingly recruited by criminal organisations as money laundering agents. They receive money of illegal origin in their bank account and transfer it into other bank accounts, usually located abroad, in exchange for a commission.
October warned its lenders that money mules are often recruited through online advertising via “get-rich-quick” messages, closed Facebook groups, forums or instant messaging applications.
The platform said that mules may be targeted with fake job offers, and criminals may even create fake pages for real companies.
October cited reports from the Spanish Banking Association that includes details that should make people suspect someone is trying to recruit them as a financial mule.
These include receiving emails or social media messages from unknown senders promising easy money, job offers that don’t describe the tasks and only ask for current account details, or requests to give their email address on dating sites.
Other suspicious details include advertising in which an international company is looking for local agents, or being contacted by a “company” through servers such as Gmail or Yahoo instead of using a corporate domain. These messages often contain grammatical mistakes.
October echoed the Spanish Banking Association’s advice to avoid these situations.
This includes not answering to, or clicking on any links in, emails that can be considered suspicious and not giving bank account details to anyone you do not trust.
The platform said that in cases where a consumer suspects that someone is trying to use their account as a mule, they should stop trading immediately, report it to the police and notify their bank.
In December, Europol and EU law enforcement authorities launched the #DontBeaMule campaign to raise awareness of the risks of, and prevent people from, falling victim to money mule organisations.
October said it carries out exhaustive anti-fraud and money laundering checks to ensure that its platform is not used for illegal purposes, including verifying the identify of users before allowing them to lend.
“In the end, be careful whenever you make transactions over the internet,” October said in a blog on its website.
“Cybercrime is growing every day and we must protect ourselves and report illegal situations.”