A recent chat with an individual who was almost tricked into helping organized criminals launder thousands of dollars stolen through e-banking fraud introduced me to one of the most clever and convincing money mule recruitment Web sites I’ve ever encountered. Through the use of images stolen from legitimate Web sites and well-placed video and interactive content, this bogus work-at-home job site may become a model for mule recruitment scams to come.
Money mules are people willingly or unwittingly lured into helping crooks launder stolen funds, usually through work-at-home job scams. Reshipping mules are sent goods and asked to reship them to addresses abroad, or are sent money and asked to purchase goods and then ship them overseas. In both jobs, the mule usually earns a commission for his or her work (either fixed percentage of the transfer or permission to keep one of the purchased goods), but both are usually cut loose before they see their promised paychecks.
A mule who spoke with KrebsOnSecurity.com on condition of anonymity said he was recruited as a financial agent by Lydon Online, which communicated with him via Web-based e-mails (see image directly below), as well as via cell phone text messages.
The mule, whom we’ll call “Jeremy,” ignored instructions to supply his bank account information in preparation for receiving deposits from Lydon Online. That’s because shortly after signing up with Lydon, Jeremy learned that another company which also had hired him for a work-at-home job as a financial agent had tried to send him nearly $10,000 stolen from a Pennsylvania dental practice that was robbed of many times that amount last month (the dental office also agreed to speak to me on the condition of anonymity).