Feeds

US gov warns banks on money mules

More dough in the laundry

Website security in corporate America

The government agency that insures US banks has warned its members to be on the lookout for an increase in money mules used to launder money that's been electronically stolen from deposit accounts.

In a memo issued last week, the federal deposit insurance corporation told member banks the mules can often be spotted by common characteristics. The tell-tale signs include:

  • someone with a newly opened account who receives unusually large numbers of electronic transfers
  • account holders who receive electronic transfers and shortly afterward originate outgoing wire transfers or cash withdrawals that are 8 to 10 percent less (accounting for the mule's commission), and
  • foreign exchange students with a J-1 visa and a fraudulent passport who opens a student account that has a high volume of incoming and outgoing electronic transfers</li

"Money mule activity is essentially electronic money laundering," the memo stated. "Strong customer identification, customer due diligence, and high-risk account monitoring procedures are essential for detecting suspicious activity, including money mule accounts."

Over the past few years, cybercrooks, many located in Eastern Europe, have increasingly relied on mules located in the US to receive stolen funds and then funnel the money overseas before the fraud is detected. According to Security Fix, such scams have plundered at least $40m from small- to mid-sized businesses.

In some cases, the mules have no idea that they're engaging in illegal activities. That appeared to be the case two years ago when Ukrainian fraudsters recruited a Texas man with Down Syndrome to deposit money orders received from victims in an eBay scam into his bank account and then wire the majority of the funds using Western Union.

In other cases, mules are aware what they're doing is wrong, but choose to look the other way.

According to the FDIC, the mules are increasingly recruited on job posting websites, social networking sites and through advance fee scams that promise large rewards in exchange for acting as a financial intermediary. Sometimes, when the mules turn wise to the scam, the criminals try to harass or intimidate the mules to keep them from quitting. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.