MANILA - Consumers can avoid helping fraudsters as money mules by being careful with their bank accounts, EastWest Bank said Monday.
A money mule is someone who moves illegally required money. This is a criminal act prohibited by Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
In a statement, EastWest Bank said a person caught as a money mule could get up to 7 years in jail and a fine of up to P3 million "all for receiving and transferring money in your bank account."
“Many people don’t know what they’re getting into when someone asks them if they can make random bank transfers using their account. Nobody ever thinks that there is actually a crime associated with simply transferring money,” EastWest Bank's chief information security officer Joey Regala said.
But Regala said being a money mule could be avoided by using the following tips:
• Be careful of strangers, even acquaintances - requests often come from strangers including friends and acquaintances you don't regularly talk to. Be wary of seemingly random requests
• Never give away bank account details
• When the offer is too good to be true, it usually is - a small fee for a seemingly innocent fund transfer between 2 different accounts should already be a red flag
“Anyone can transfer money between two accounts easily nowadays, so having it go through a third party should already seem suspicious,” says Regala.
Several other banks and the Bankers Association of the Philippines have also warned against money mule schemes.
The adoption of digital banking and online transactions surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.