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What's a money mule scam?

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Scammers may try to use you to move stolen money. If you help them, you could be what law enforcement calls a money mule.

Money mule scams happen several ways. The story often involves scams related to online dating, work-at-home jobs, or prizes. Scammers send money to you, sometimes by check, then ask you to send (some of) it to someone else. They often want you to use gift cards or wire transfers. Of course, they don’t tell you the money is stolen and they’re lying about the reason to send it. And there never was a relationship, job, or prize. Only a scam.

What happens next? If you deposit the scammer’s check, it may clear but then later turn out to be a fake check. The bank will want you to repay it. If you give the scammer your account information, they may misuse it. You could even get into legal trouble for helping a scammer move stolen money.

How can you avoid money mule scams?

  • Don’t accept a job that asks you to transfer money. They may tell you to send money to a “client” or “supplier.” Say no. You may be helping a scammer move stolen money.
  • Never send money to collect a prize. That’s always a scam, and they might be trying to get you to move stolen money.
  • Don’t send money back to an online love interest who’s sent you money. Also always a scam — and another a way to get you to move stolen money.

Criminals are good at making up reasons to help them move money. Don’t do it. The money may be from other people they scammed. You may be helping criminals hurt people just like you.

If you think you might be involved in a money mule or money transfer scam, stop transferring money. Notify your bank, the wire transfer service, or any gift card companies involved. Then, report it to the FTC at

Please share this information and the FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation. People may be embarrassed or afraid to talk about their experiences, but you can help. A simple phone call, email or text, saying “Look what I just found” may make a difference in someone’s life.


Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money


As good citizens and consumers we must spread the word of this FTC Consumer Protection advice. It's one of a consumer's best defense. Talking to each other about these possible scam methods can save many from innocently losing their money or identity.

I have a roommate who actually got a check via open an account for the sender,it was like almost 4,000 dollars..of course he didn’t,but fed..that’s pretty bold

Same thing here,but how did they get his name , address,phone number,number is not listed

Thank you for yourself.

Does any agency have the resources to work with people who have been targeted for this type of scam, but haven't taken any action yet, to trace transactions and potentially catch the perpetrators?

Didn't know check was fake and deposit into my account. I was told it was my prize money. Now in legal trouble with bank. I'm a senior. Never was in any trouble with the law. This is terrible.

That’s exactly what happened to me ! Now my bank wants me to repay back the money. I am a victim of a SCAM. I had never done this in my entire life ! We are in a bad time with money, my husband was ill at the time and I wanted to make extra money and get ahead with our bills:( HELP .. what can I do?

I met a guy online and after chatting for a week. He offered me to give him my bank account so he could send me some money. I was refused at first but he tried to call me and convinced me that is ok. So I gave him my local Japan Post Bank account( not an international account). After that, he showed me some pictures of the fail transferring. I was actually relieved about that after I read this article.

I wish the poster could be sent to Libraries and Schools, that would help spread the word.

Thank you so much.

I just received a CA from someone I believe to be a scammer . He have his name and said he is from the Am. Cash Lot. Sweepstakes According to him I have won a large sum of money that will be delivered in a cashier's check He sounded foreign He also said I had won a vehicle . IHe said that ai can come to a mentioned state to pick it up or it can be shipped. I must sign an affidavit and He gave .e numbers for the winnings and the bank is well known that holds a combination to a locked case to which noone has the combination but the bank and it would be released to me once all papers are signed. He gave me the acct. # I cunningly questioned him concerning said winnings and I figured it was a scam by his answers. I have the phone # he called from and another # which I believe to be a cell# which is his real number . Also I asked him to check with ups to see how much shipping cost are to have the package shipped. He told me he would check and ca me back. He called back but we are having storms in our area at this time so I couldn't bear when he called back he called several times but stopped after about 5 times. I am contacting the FCC to check on this tosee if it is a scam. And if you want I will assist to the best of my ability to help stop the scammers. Thank you Go getum. And if this is not a scam I am one blessed person The prize was huge. Lol I am blessed anyways in that our LORD JESUS wants me to help others in any capacity that I am able People should not be scammed. Good was we have hard enough times as it is. Thank you JESUS for giving me a good mind An I have a good mind to kick oops to step on the devils head

Omay so I was looking for a job trew express employment and I got a match so I thought it wouldn't be a scam because its from a company for a personal assistant I deposited the check in to my account and then got a message saying to send the money on a gift card but I still haven't I still have the money what do i do should I call the cops he has my address

I am in the same situation did you ever find out what to do with it?

I received a check for over **3,000 dollars. It was delivered by FedEx. I was advised to text a dude at (832)637-8851 before cashing the check. Don't be fooled because FedEx delivered it. If it seems to good to be true. It probably is.

I have always been a good judgment on real and fake. So if I read a email that makes me laugh because they want to give me $2,5000.00 because they think I'm a good and need it. I copy that email and report it to as many places I can in hopes to help not 1 person get scammed. Best regards, S

almost a "money mule" but ftc saved me! tks ftc

Just got a $2480 just want me to purchase $2000 worth of gift cards then take the $480 as no i won't do that no i won't do that...

I too got a $2480.00 check. I called the bank to see if it was real. She said "No, the routing number isn't ours". She said to call police and file a report then fax a copy of the check to them.
I never did get instructions from the scammers. Just a check sent via priority over night mail. A detective is calling me today.

I fell victim to this scam for about a week & was receiving wire transfers & Zelle transfers from a scammer. I was very naive & thought it was legit at 1st & then knew it was to good to be true. What kina of legal trouble could be coming to me in the future?

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