HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The FBI warns that fraudsters are trying to take advantage of unemployed people during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the FBI, many of them are in other countries, stealing money by turning people into money mules.
There has been a spike in the number of cases of people being scammed while trying to work from home.
The FBI said scammers are taking advantage of the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus by stealing money and identities.
When thieves steal money, they need to move and hide it, and will scam other people to either transfer funds online or physically move the cash. The FBI said victims are targeted through online job schemes, dating websites and apps.
People who help these criminals put their own finances and personal information in jeopardy, and whether they know it or not, are participating in the crime.
Below is information from the FBI:
Watch out for online job postings and emails from individuals promising you easy money for little to no effort. Common red flags that you may be acting as a money mule include:
- The “employer” you communicate with uses web-based services such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, etc.
- You are asked to receive funds in your personal bank account and then “process” or “transfer” funds via wire transfer, ACH, mail, or money service businesses, such as Western Union or MoneyGram
- You are asked to open bank accounts in your name for a business
- You are told to keep a portion of the money you transfer
- Individuals claiming to be located overseas asking you to send or receive money on their behalf
Watch out for emails, private messages and phone calls from individuals you do not know who claim to be located abroad and in need of your financial support.
Criminals are trying to gain access to U.S. bank accounts in order to move fraud proceeds from you and other victims to their bank accounts. Common fictitious scenarios include:
- Individuals claiming to be U.S. service members stationed overseas asking you to send or receive money on behalf of themselves or a loved one battling COVID-19
- Individuals claiming to be U.S. citizens working abroad asking you to send or receive money on behalf of themselves or a loved one battling COVID-19
- Individuals claiming to be U.S. citizens quarantined abroad asking you to send or receive money on behalf of themselves or a loved one battling COVID-19
- Individuals claiming to be in the medical equipment business asking you to send or receive money on their behalf
- Individuals affiliated with a charitable organization asking you to send or receive money on their behalf
If you are looking for accurate and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 virus, the CDC has posted extensive guidance and information that is updated frequently. The best sources for authoritative information on the virus are the CDC's website and coronavirus.gov. You may also consult your primary care physician for guidance.
If you believe you, or someone you know, has been solicited to be a money mule, please contact your local FBI field office.