Effective use of money mules in the cyber attacks on banks

In the cyber attacks on the financial institutions, many a times money mules are used to transport the money to the mastermind of the operation


It was reported in the case of cosmos bank investigation that large number of account holders were used to withdraw money from the various ATM Centers in different cities across the world. Large number of participants involved in ATM withdrawals clearly indicate that they are not the master mind of the fraud but are the Money Mules or the account holders who are paid small money to withdraw cash from ATM for a percent cut.

Money mules are people who serve as intermediaries for criminals and criminal organisations. Whether or not they are aware of it, they transport fraudulently gained money to fraudsters. The use of intermediaries makes it difficult to figure out the identity of the fraudster. Once the fraud incidence takes place, fraudster needs the bank accounts to transfer the funds to either foreign countries or to the crypto-currency wallets. In certain cases, when the ATM centers spit the cash, these mules are asked to purchase the goods and are asked to Export the same to another country under the pretext of Exports.

Money mules, just like fraudsters, are guilty of illegally transporting fraudulently gained money and can be prosecuted for this.

In order to disguise the nature of the transaction, huge manpower is required to create the layers of the transactions and recruitment of the money mules is one of the options.

Who are money mules ?

Migrants from the poor states, the unemployed, students and people in economic hardship often feature amongst the money mules. Even though money mules are dragged into the scene, they are considered as party to crime as they launder the illicit proceeds of crime. Criminals often dupe innocent victims into laundering money on their behalf with the promise of easy money by using seemingly legitimate job adverts, online posts, social media and other methods. In India, the unemployed migrants from the small villages are lured for the jobs to perform export operations.

How do money mules get caught?

Generally, banks have sophisticated systems in place to track fraudulent transactions and can identify these within short notice. Their faces are captured in surveillance cameras of ATM centers. Some mules use their true identity such as their KYC-verified bank accounts to transfer the funds to other countries. It becomes easy for the law enforcement agencies to identify the individuals based on the photographs and addresses to track these money mules.