Money Mule Scam Numbers on the Rise

Online Job Posting Fraud

During the last 18 months a half billion dollars have been stolen through online job posting frauds. Unfortunately, the FBI, US Postal Service, FCC, FTC, and Internet Crime Complaint Center have been at a loss as to how to stop it. This is one of the fastest growing types of crime to date and is one of the hardest to control.

The problem is that this scam has a central victim portal that feeds multiple scams. And, it all has to do with filling out an online job application. Currently and CareerBuilder are two of the most targeted sites. Despite the fact that CEOs of both of these networks say they are doing everything they can to curtail the use of these sites for illegal purposes, those who are using submitting applications because of the harsh conditions currently found in employment are the ones paying.

When Catherine, for instance, who had been out of work for nearly a year filed an application with and found she was embroiled in a scam she didn't understand. She was asked to ship a few items to Russia in exchange for 13% commission based on the sales price. Before long, however she received a phone call where a gentleman explained he had the $10,000 ready to wire to her bank account. Of course, she had no clue as to what was going on. It turns out the eBay buyer had just won a bid and that she was suppose to forward the money to her boss who held an overseas account. She contacted the FBI immediately and was asked to play the mole so these people could be caught.

This type of scam is called "postal forwarding" or "reshipping fraud" and, according to the US Postal Inspection Service, thousands of those seeking jobs have been caught up in this con. According to Barry Mew, spokesman for the USPS, this one scam has cost victims $5 to $10 million with a single credit card company losing $1.5 million. "At this point," he stated, "it's out of control."

Of course, most of the recruited helpers are the ones who lose in the end. In one case a woman passed on $25,000 to Eastern Europe only to have the original check stopped. Of course, the bank charged her account and she had to see her child's college education mutual fund in order to pay it back and maintain a positive working relationship with the bank. Although the FBI had an active ongoing investigation, they were never able to recover her loses.

A recent study conducted by the Merchant Risk Council found that during a 3-month period, eight of the top web retailers inadvertently promoted scams involving 5,000 consumers who were conned into helping thieves steal $1.7 million from legitimate businesses. Despite this loss, these sites were also able to close down several other scams. According to Susan Henson, spokeswoman for the Merchant Risk Council, $500 million has been lost in reshipping scams during the past several years.

Scams can include credit card fraud, identity theft, auction fraud, and many others. Additionally, victims can include auction winners, credit card firm, and defrauding major online retailers. It's important that those submitting applications through online networks do so with caution. Personal information such as phone numbers and addresses should never be included, but should include email addresses only. Also, if phone numbers from perspective employers or job descriptions seem odd, call authorities immediately. It's better to be wrong than to be caught up in a scam that could leave you penniless.
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