As Australia’s international border reopens, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has warned that criminal activity such as money laundering and the use of money mules is likely to increase.
This article explores the key considerations outlined by the AFP.
What is a money mule?
A money mule is a person who transfers illegally obtained money between different payment accounts, very often in different countries, on behalf of others.
Money mules are often recruited by criminals to receive money into their bank account, in order to withdraw the money and in most cases transfer it overseas, receiving a commission in return for the provided services.
The AFP expects attempts to transport money illegally through airports to spike, as passenger numbers increase following the reopening of Australia’s international border.
Criminal groups often target international students or non-permanent residents travelling into Australia to become money mules, helping the criminals to launder the proceeds of crime and move them offshore. While money mules may not be aware that their actions are illegal, they nevertheless can face arrest and criminal charges.
How to protect yourself
The AFP outlines a number of steps to follow to protect yourself from being exploited by criminals as a money mule.
- Never hand over details for your financial accounts.
- Don’t agree to open accounts with multiple banks or operate accounts to receive money.
- Be cautious about unsolicited offers or opportunities offering the chance to make easy money.
- Be wary of offers from people or companies overseas, as it makes it harder to check if they are legitimate.
- Take steps to verify any company which makes you a job offer.
- Never give your confidential banking details or identification information to anyone.
- Always guard your personal information and be suspicious if someone asks for personal details soon after contact.
- Be wary of a person asking for financial assistance and never send money.
- Be cautious and don’t provide any details if asked about your financial status.
- If you believe you may have become caught up in a money mule scheme, the AFP recommends immediately contacting your bank or financial institution as you could be at risk of having your identity or savings stolen.
As Australia’s international border reopens, the AFP expects that criminal groups will target the community to become money mules and help move criminal proceeds offshore. It is important to be aware of the red flags and know how to protect yourself.