Money Laundering Job Scams

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Have you seen job listings that ask you to process payments or handle funds transfers for an employer? It sounds like an easy job, but it probably isn't a job at all. It is likely a scam, and one that could end up implicating you in a crime as well.

These types of fake job postings are usually scams, so think twice before you apply. Legitimate companies handle payments, credit cards, and money transfer transactions directly online. There is no need for a third party to be involved, and you should never use your own bank account to conduct financial business for an employer.

How Money Laundering Job Scams Work

How do these scams work? Money laundering scams are some of the most common online job scams. Structuring is the practice of obscuring the origins of illegally obtained payments.

The money is passed through a number of financial institutions in amounts small enough as to not attract the attention of regulatory bodies.

Individuals are hired, often unaware that they are committing fraud, to move relatively small amounts of cash through their personal bank accounts in the guise of processing payments.

Some things that could tip you off that something is amiss:

  • Money launderers post jobs online offering lucrative work from home opportunities. 
  • They send out emails saying they are hiring employees to help process payments or transfer funds. 
  • They promise a percentage for you to use your personal bank account to collect payments and transfer them to the company.
  • Very often, the fake "employer" says he is from a foreign country and thus cannot transfer funds himself, which is simply not true. Legitimate foreign companies do business in the U.S. all the time.

Other Types of Fraudulent Financial Job Scams

Money laundering is just one way that fraudulent employers can prey on job seekers looking for simple work from home jobs. Shell companies can be set up by individuals who counterfeit checks or cash and need to circulate it through legitimate accounts, again in amounts small enough as to not be flagged as suspicious by a financial institution.

Identity thieves can use the personal information you supply when applying for a bogus job to hack their way into your accounts. 

A few things that should indicate that you need to do some research and verify the legitimacy of a company: 

  • You are asked to use your personal bank account to move what are actually stolen or bad checks, and have you keep a percentage of the money for yourself. When you deposit a bad or stolen check, you are liable to the bank. Not only will you have to pay the bank, but, because the money being transferred is typically stolen, you could be arrested for committing theft.
  • An "employer" hires you for a fake job, but says he can only pay you via direct deposit. He will then ask for your account information and personal information. Rather than paying you, he will use this information to access your account.

How to Avoid Money Job Scams

Remember that you are in control of your job search. Take the appropriate steps every time you apply for a position. If the job looks too good to be true, be diligent in your research before you apply- because it may indeed be a financial scam.

Money laundering, counterfeit, and fraud are crimes- and you can be held responsible for taking part in them, even if you weren’t told by your “employer” that what you were doing was illegal. Ignorance does not guarantee your innocence.

Keep in mind:

  • Thoroughly research companies before applying, especially if the job description includes third party money transfers. 
  • Be aware that no legitimate company will ask you to transfer funds before meeting you in person and conducting a thorough interview and background check. Even then, it would be very unusual for third party financial transactions using your bank account to be part of a job description.
  • While companies may offer to pay you via direct deposit, no company should ever require you to use direct deposit. Therefore, make sure you are confident of a company's legitimacy before providing them with personal information or handling money for the company.
  • Use common sense. Ask yourself why the company would need to hire you as a layer between themselves and their customers’ payments.

More Information on Job Scams

Avoiding Job Scams
How to tell if a job is a scam, typical employment scams, work at home scams, and how to avoid scams.

How to Report a Scam
Have you been scammed or almost scammed? Here's information on how to report a scam, including where and how to report an employment scam.

Scam Warning Signs
What's a scam and what's not? It can be really difficult to tell the difference between scams and legitimate job openings, especially when it comes to work at home jobs. Here are scam warning signs to watch for and how to spot a scam.