The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are launching a campaign from June 6 to 10 to raise awareness about how fraudsters are using unsuspecting victims as money mules to launder funds and proceeds of crime.
2021 was a historic year for frauds reported to the CAFC, with reported losses totalling $380 million, which was a dramatic increase from $164 million in losses in 2020. It is estimated that only 5% of victims report their frauds to law enforcement or the CAFC.
With the sharp increase in reported frauds and the noticeable prevalence of money mules, the partners want to educate Canadians on the various frauds that utilize money mules, in addition to providing general awareness to prevent victimization.
What is a money mule
A money mule is an individual who is recruited by fraudsters to serve as a middle person to transfer stolen money. The mule may, or may not, be aware that they are a pawn in a larger network. When a mule moves money, it becomes harder to identify the fraudsters from the victims, and can lead to victims being tied to serious crimes.
The money is often transferred using bank wire transfers, email money transfers, through money services businesses and cryptocurrencies. Typically, mules get paid for their services, receiving a small percentage of the money transferred, but fraudsters may disguise these funds as "a payment from clients", "a loan for a crypto investment", "prize winnings" and much more.
A money mule is used in the money laundering process, which is an offense under the Criminal Code of Canada (Section 462.31).
Through awareness and education, Canadians can be better prepared and protected.
On June 8, 2022, at 10 am, the CAFC and OPP will be hosting a Live Chat on social media discussing money mules and related frauds. The guest speakers will be Intelligence Researcher / Profiler, Nancy Cahill, CAFC, and Liaison Officer Acting Detective Sergeant John Armit, CAFC and more!
The partners will also be sharing more information, tips and links to various resources through its social media platforms. The public is encouraged to engage in the conversation to help recognize, reject and report frauds by using the hashtags #DontBeAMule, #kNOwFraud, #Take5, #Tell2.
If you are the victim of a scam, fraud or cybercrime, please contact your local police. It is also essential that you report an incident, whether you are a victim or not, to the CAFC via their Online Reporting System or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
At the CAFC, we continue to work tirelessly with law enforcement and partners to target fraudsters, recover funds and raise awareness about scams and fraud, but everyone has a part to play in fraud prevention and recovery. With the notable increase in fraud reports in Canada, it is more important than ever for Canadians to know what scams and fraud look like, how to protect themselves and to always report them.
Fraud is a criminal offence in Canada, with real victims and real impacts. What may seem like a harmless email or phone call, could result in devastating losses. Be vigilant and report incidents of scams and fraud to local police and the CAFC. By doing so, you will help us find the criminals, take down their networks and assets, prevent further victimization, and make Canada more resilient to fraud.
Financial crimes, including money laundering, are a serious problem that plagues our communities. Fraudsters prey on vulnerable members of society, and exploit people's fear and lack of financial expertise. The best way to protect yourself is to learn more about frauds, and be aware and cautious in your financial dealings. The Ontario Provincial Police is proud to be a partner in the CAFC, and to contribute to the fight against financial crimes through public education sessions such as this. Fraud – Recognize it, Report it, Stop it.
- The United Nations defines money laundering as any act or attempted act to disguise the source of money or assets derived from criminal activity. There are three (3) recognized stages in the money laundering process:
- Placement involves placing the proceeds of crime in the financial system
- Layering involves converting the proceeds of crime into another form and creating complex layers of financial transactions to disguise the audit trail and the source and ownership of funds. This stage may involve transactions such as the buying and selling of stocks, commodities or property; and
- Integration involves placing the laundered proceeds back in the economy to create the perception of legitimacy
- Based on reports to the CAFC, the top five most reported scams and fraud in 2021 were extortion, phishing, merchandise scams, service scams and vendor fraud
- By reporting to the CAFC, you are assisting law enforcement by contributing to a national repository of information to assist investigations and support prevention and disruption efforts
- The CAFC and the RCMP's National Cybercrime Coordination Unit are working together to develop a new national reporting system for individuals, businesses and other organizations to report fraud and cybercrime incidents to law enforcement. The new system is expected to officially launch in 2023-2024