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  • Writer's pictureMark van Vuuren

What are money mules - and why should CISO's care?

Money mules are a part of the expanding chain of money laundering by criminals, including drug traffickers and organised crime. The cumulative losses due to money laundering are estimated to be around $1.6 trillion, or 2.7 percent of the global GDP.

Fraud scams that use mule accounts potentially link unsuspecting businesses to organised crime financing, a serious Anti-Money Laundering (AML) offence that targets the vulnerable who knowingly, or unknowingly, transfer illicit profits.

Money comes to cybercriminals as a result of various forms of fraud. The reaction of the money mule victims usually does not come immediately. Depending on specific phishing schemes, this time lag can range from a few minutes to a few weeks.

The fraudsters plan operations with stolen money based on an anticipated timeframe for when a person realizes that they have become the victim of a fraudulent scheme.

Why should South African CISOs care?

South Africa recently underwent a mutual evaluation of its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) system by the FATF between April 2019 and June 2021, with the final report being finalised and published in an October 2021 Mutual Evaluation Report.

South Africa is approaching the critical deadline set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and will soon know whether it will be added to the global grey list or not.

Mitigation strategies from Group-IB

The countermeasures below can enhance your Anti-money laundering (AML) prevention procedure by mitigating such activity.

During the account creation, if the money mule account and the victim are in the same bank, then the money mule account preparation can be detected by the following non-transactional indicators:

  • access from one device to multiple bank accounts

  • the intersection between devices and user accounts that aren’t related to work, family, and other relationships

The Group-IB’s Fraud Protection shows an organized money mule network with over 70 user accounts and 30 devices. Head on over to their page to see more, and ask us about Group-IB in South Africa.

Corr-Serve are authorised partners of Group-IB in SA.

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