Crime Prevention Advice

Money Mules

Recruitment as “Transaction Managers”

In early 2006, a foreign criminal syndicate recruited a group of Singaporeans as “transaction managers” for the Financial Investment Advisory Services (FIAS). FIAS is an organisation linked to the World Bank, but it had nothing to do with the recruitment of the “transaction managers” and it had no links with the foreign criminal syndicate. The Singaporeans were told that FIAS would send money to their bank accounts, and their role was to receive the money and then remit it to persons in other countries. They were allowed to keep a small amount of the funds received, as their commission.

The money received by these Singaporeans were found to be the proceeds of a sophisticated internet scam, and these “transaction managers” were the conduit of the criminal syndicate to launder the money.

People like these ‘transaction managers’ who move stolen money on behalf of criminals are known as money mules.

Online Social Networking Websites

A different manner of recruiting Singapore residents to be money mules is observed in the recent spike in money mule cases.

Singapore residents are befriended by members of foreign criminal syndicates on social networking websites. The criminal will pose as a lonely individual seeking companionship and love. After gaining their trust, the criminal will request the Singapore resident to open a new bank account or use existing bank accounts to receive money sent from overseas. If the Singapore resident has no bank account, he will be asked to open one. When the money has been received in the bank account, the account owner will be asked to send the money to another person or to a company, usually overseas.

The criminal will usually claim that:

  • 1. He (or she) is operating a business in a foreign country, and he does not have a bank account in that country; 2. Someone, usually a client or a relative, will be sending money; 3. The assistance of the Singapore resident is needed to receive the money in Singapore, and thereafter remit the funds to the syndicate member or his business partner in the foreign country; 4. The Singapore resident could also be asked to withdraw the money in cash and to hand the cash to the syndicate member or his associate in Singapore.
    • Whatever the method, the money received in the bank accounts of these Singapore residents are the proceeds of crime. By receiving and transferring criminal proceeds, the Singapore residents are abettors of money laundering. We urge the public to be wary of requests to receive and transfer money, especially from parties you do not know, or have only befriended online. You can take precautionary steps to avoid falling prey to these criminals.

      Precautionary steps

      Do not give your particulars or bank account details to persons you do not know or have met only over the Internet
      Don’t let the criminal syndicate fool you into believing that you have developed a romantic relationship. Is the person you met online really who he/she claims to be? Be aware that anyone, including criminals, can hide behind attractive photos and identities of other people or fictitious entities. Be mindful that giving your bank account details to someone else allows them to misuse your account for criminal purposes.

      Ignore or decline any request by online acquaintances for fund transfers
      Suspicious circumstances often surround these transfers: Be skeptical of the reasons offered by your online acquaintances for using your account to transfer money.

      If you have received money in your bank account under the circumstances outlined above, alert CAD and your bank immediately. If the money is still in your bank account, do not deal with it. Report the matter to CAD and to your bank.
      We would like to remind the public that anyone who assists fraudsters to move stolen money may be liable for criminal offences whether or not there was monetary benefit.

      • It is highly unusual for someone whom you do not know to send you money, especially a large sum of money;
      • It is unusual for someone to ask you to make funds transfers for his business, when you are not involved in that business; and
      • It is unusual for someone to require your assistance to receive funds or transfer funds, or both, especially in today’s age where professional remittance services are common worldwide.

 

Last Updated on 21 April 2016