The Justice Department, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and other federal law enforcement agencies announced the completion of a campaign that disrupted money mule networks used by foreign fraudsters. Money mules received money from fraud victims and forwarded the fraud proceeds to the perpetrators (many of whom are based overseas).
According to the U.S. DOJ, some individuals knew they were facilitating fraud, while others first interacted with fraudsters as victims and may have been unaware that their activity furthered criminal activity.
Over approximately the last three months, law enforcement took over 4,000 actions against individuals responsible for facilitating a range of fraud schemes. These schemes included those that targeted consumers, such as lottery fraud and romance scams, and those that targeted businesses or pandemic funds.
The thousands of actions taken by law enforcement — from criminal prosecutions to civil actions to warning letters — were designed to punish those who knowingly assisted fraudsters and to advise those who may have been unknowingly helping fraudsters that their conduct furthered crime. These actions are intended to deter overseas fraudsters from relying on U.S.-based individuals to facilitate schemes and thereby reduce the harm caused by foreign fraud operations.
This year’s effort marked the fifth U.S. law enforcement campaign disrupting these money-transmitting networks. Since the first campaign, during which approximately 400 actions were taken by law enforcement, agencies have collectively taken over 12,000 actions. Investigations have shown that disrupting money-transmitting networks has impeded fraudsters’ ability to receive funds, thereby reducing fraud victimization. These campaigns are part of a global effort to tackle money-transmitting networks linked to illegal activity.