Money Transfer Jobs

Before You Take a Money Transfer Job

Money on the Line
Money transfer jobs can be a setup for a scam (you'll be hung out to dry) or part of a money laundering operation. Photodisc/Getty Images

Looking for work? You may be tempted to take a money transfer job for a few extra bucks. It’s easy work; all you have to do is forward payments from your bank account to somebody else. Unfortunately, these "jobs" are often scams. Taking one can mean losing your hard earned money, as well as potential criminal charges.

Too Good to Be True?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Money transfer jobs are no exception.

Consider how easy they are: you get to keep a cut of everything the money transfer business sends to you, and you can do it in your bathrobe. You don't need advanced skills or training, and the income promised is more than most people make nationwide.

What could go wrong ?

Money Laundering

In some cases, money transfer jobs are part of a money laundering operation. Criminals around the world want to get money into their personal bank accounts so they can spend it, but they can’t transfer funds in traditional ways or walk into the bank with piles of cash (red flags will pop up, putting the operation at risk or revealing the identity of the participants).

Your role is to help them 'launder' the money (or hide its origin). Your account is clean, you’re an upstanding citizen, and nobody has any reason to suspect you’re up to something illegal. By funneling funds through your account, money gets into the banking system without problems.

When you send the funds to somebody else, it's difficult for authorities to see how the recipient earns money. Instead of making large cash deposits (which can be suspicious), the recipient gets plain old checks or ACH transfers. Instead of making withdrawals from a business that is under investigation, the recipient gets paid by you.

Your money transfer job may help a variety of criminals that you’re not interested in helping: terrorists, embezzlers, stolen property and drug rings, and others. In this case, you’re known as a money mule.

Your Risk

What’s the risk of taking a money transfer job? Criminals get access to your bank information (and they'll often ask for Social Security Number while they're at it, as part of the hiring process). They can use it to try to drain your account, and you may be charged with helping them do whatever they’re up to.

You may also get scammed by the money transfer business. As payments come and go, you and your bank see the transactions as routine events. The bank clears funds for you quickly, and you forward payments without checking to be sure the funds are truly cleared in your account.

Someday, a larger than usual payment may come through, which you will forward without hesitation. That may be the one that doesn’t clear. When your bank reverses the bad deposit from your account (and you already forwarded the payment), you’ll be sitting on a loss. You can't get the money back from the person you sent it to, and you'll never hear from them again.

Tips

Be very cautious about money transfer jobs. Consider:

  • What kind of business would hire you (a complete stranger) to handle their money?
  • Are you getting paid a reasonable rate for what you do, or is this too good to be true?
  • Why does the business need to move money through your personal account - don’t they have a business account for that?