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Job offer spam: Processing payments

Who sends these job offers and why?
Maybe you've received this kind of spam before: Some company is looking for people who can receive payments from the company's customers. They will then have to wire those funds to the company by Western Union, minus a fee they receive for every payment forwarded. The position is often described as a "Correspondence Manager", "Transfer Manager", "Financial Agent" or "Shipping Manager".

The conditions seem good: You can work part time, need no prior experience. You just can't have a criminal record. This may sound quite attractive to people out of a job, but there's a catch.

This type of scam involves criminal activity and the job seeker is needed to break the money trail so police can not investigate the true criminal. Whenever you electronically transfer money between bank accounts there is a "paper trail". You can tell whose account the money came from and whose account it went to. That makes solving crimes fairly easy. When a criminal uses Western Union to shift money between cities and countries, there is no paper trail. As long as the recipient possesses the wire transfer details provided by the sender, he can pick up the money in at any Western Union agent in the receiving city and then walk away. Sometimes there can hundreds of offices for him to chose from, for example postal bank branches at post offices.

With these fraudulent job offers, the "employee" may receive an illegal fund transfer from an account that was the target of a "phishing" attack. Or he may collect a payment from an unsuspecting eBay-buyer who will never receive the goods, while the "employee" already sends the money to virtually untraceable criminals in another country. The key to cracking this type of crime, other than warning the public, is to monitor these crimes while they are in progress, before the money has disappeared.

For a typical example of this scam, see our page about the fraud.

See the following articles for more information about this type of scam:

Please be aware that:

  • No legitimate company will use bank accounts of private individuals for processing payments from its customers.
  • No legitimate business will pay 5% and more for international money transfers (for example, $250 out of $5000), when banks provide such services for only $30-50 per transaction and businesses and individuals can set up their own bank accounts in other countries if needed.
  • No legitimate company uses private individuals to receive parcels and remail them.

Any job offer that involves any of the above activities is a fraud!

Job offers on the internet such as the ones listed here involve stolen money and stolen goods. If you participate in these scams, even without criminal intent, you could be held liable and face criminal charges. If you have been recruited, contact the police and notify your bank. Do not withdraw any cash wired to your account! Do not forward any parcels mailed to your home! Talk to the bank and the police first!

Phishing, money mules and botnets

To obscure the traces, phishing websites are often hosted on hacked websites. Furthermore, many of the websites used to recruit "money mules" to forward cash from hacked accounts are hosted on botnets, along with phishing websites. Botnets are remote-controlled networks of hijacked computers, also often referred to as "Zombies". These are used to send spam, host fake sites and also to attack other websites. Botnets used for providing webhosting and DNS-hosting mostly on home computers are known as "fast flux" networks.

Articles on fast flux botnets:

Here are some examples of botnets used in money mule scams:

The following comments on describe exactly what happened during the subsequent "" fraud:
So it's the standard mule recruitment drive. For those who haven't seen one before the aim is that the "company" hires you to make these supposed bank transfers for them. What you are actually used for is to transfer money from exploited bank accounts offshore for them. Essentially laundering the cash for them.

What happens is you get hired by them. The scammers then withdraw a lot of cash (usually a couple of thousand) from another bank account usually with the same bank as you and transfer it to your account. The account money was transferred from was in fact an exploited bank account that phishers have gained access to via either keylogging trojans or traditional phishing emails.

Once you have the money in your account you are usually then asked to withdraw it in cash and wire it via a method such as Western Union to another country. Minus your "wage" of course. Once the money is traced you, the mule, will not be allowed to keep the "wages" you accumulated through this "job". If you suspect you are currently a mule in this scam contact your bank and the police directly. They will understand the situation and help you out. Far better than potentially being charged with fraud when the money is traced.

Scams sent before 2007: