An online service boldly advertised in the cyber underground lets miscreants hire accomplices in several major U.S. cities to help empty bank accounts, steal tax refunds and intercept fraudulent purchases of high-dollar merchandise.
The service, advertised on exclusive, Russian-language forums that cater to cybercrooks, claims to have willing and ready foot soldiers for hire in California, Florida, Illinois and New York. These associates are not mere “money mules,” unwitting and inexperienced Americans tricked and cajoled into laundering money after being hired for bogus work-at-home jobs. Rather, as the title of the ad for this service makes clear, the “foreign agents” available through this network are aware that they will be assisting in illegal activity (the ad refers to them as неразводные “nerazvodni” or “not deceived”). Put simply: These are mules that can be counted on not to freak out or disappear with the cash.
The rest of the ad reads:
“We provide convenient service to our partners:
- Unique administrative interface – fast response
- We will react momentarily to any new task
- Adapt every action of a money mule to client’s requirements
- Timely payments via WebMoney/Liberty Reserve/Western Union, cash conversion with WU/MG
- Cashout of tax return, D + P (dump & PIN, cashout of debit cards stolen via skimming)
- Receive over mail or expensive merchandise pick up in a store
- Mules are available for other interesting transactions
We work only by reference.”
The proprietors of this service say it will take 40-45 percent of the value of the theft, depending on the amount stolen. In a follow-up Q&A with potential buyers, the vendors behind this service say it regularly moves $30,000 – $100,000 per day for clients. Specifically, it specializes in cashing out high-dollar bank accounts belonging to hacked businesses, hence the mention high up in the ad of fraudulent wire transfers and automated clearinghouse or ACH payments (ACH is typically how companies execute direct deposit of payroll for their employees).