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WSJ - Money Mules in Sheep’s Clothing

WSJ - Money Mules in Sheep’s Clothing

This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal.

Ads that offered the opportunity to “Make $$$ working from home” once were stapled to telephone poles. Today, they’re posted in internet chats, online job boards and social media. They promise big payouts from a few hours of work. The payouts are real, but the work isn’t. The ads seek money launderers, known in the world of cybercrime as “money mules.” The era of the amateur criminal has begun.

Big theft is no longer the sole territory of art forgers, safecrackers or even seasoned hackers. In the 2018 film “Ocean’s 8,” a crew of sophisticated criminals plan an elaborate scheme to steal a $150 million diamond necklace from a fundraising gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In real life, last July the U.S. charged Ramon Abbas, a Nigerian Instagrammer known as “Hushpuppi,” with participating in a plot to steal $124 million.

Gary M. Shiffman, PhD, is an economist working to solve problems related to human violence. A Gulf War veteran and former Senate National Security Advisor, Chief of Staff at US Customs and Border Protection, DARPA Principal Investigator, and Georgetown University professor, he founded two technology companies, Giant Oak, Inc, and Consilient, Inc. He is the author of The Economics of Violence (2020), and his essays have appeared in media outlets such as The Hill, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, TechCrunch, and others.

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