Don’t be a mule this Yule!

December 15, 2019

A mule is an animal with long, funny ears

He kicks up at anything he hears

His back is brawny and his brain is weak

He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak

And, by the way, if you hate to go to school

You may grow up to be a mule  

-- Swinging on a Star

So, would you rather be a mule?

Bing Crosby first sang and recorded the song, but Frank Sinatra made it popular.

It was a benign, candid description of the nature of the beast of burden.

Nowadays, narcotics authorities use the term to refer to illegal driug couriers – unsuspecting people forcibly or uknowingly tapped on manipulated by dope dealers and syndicates to bodily carry the contraband.

As the Christmas holidas are also the peak season for travel, drug syndicates also take advantage of the opportunity to ply their illegal trade through “mules” – many of them unwary that they are being semt off to deliver illicit  narcotics although a few are said to be in on the illegal activity as associates or runners.

The Christmas holidays in the country is the longest in  the world, and it is the traditional time for overseas Filipino workers and balikbayans to go homeand spend vacation with fsamilies during the merriest season  of the year.

OFW and balikbayan arrivals naturally peak at this tiome of the year.

And international drug syndicates, encouraged by the sheer volume of arrival traffic, also want to take advantage of the “thick cover” of travelers flying or sailing home for the holidays.

Ped Xing is sharing with our OFWs and balikbayans  a friendly reminder from monetary authorities not to succumb to the lure of lucre or fall prey to ruthless forces of darkness out to turn their holiday vacation into a nightmare they could never wake up from.

When requested or motivated by monetary return to carry home unknown or suspect bags, boxes,  packages or parcels from unfamiliar or, worse, suspect characters, just say no  and when possible or safe, report the encounter to authorities.

Monetary and anti-money laundering authorities have issued guidelines to avoid being victimized by international drug syndicates and their local affiliates:

In recent years, criminals have shifted to using money mules to move their dirty money out of the financial system. These criminals rely on money mules to safely and discretely launder the proceeds of their illegal activities.

Money laundering is a criminal offense punishable under Republic Act  9160, also known as the "Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.


What is a Money Mule?

"A money mule is someone who transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of or at the direction of another. Criminals recruit mules to move money electronically through bank accounts, move physical currency, or assist the movement of money through a variety of other methods.

Once received, the mule will:

• wire the money into a third-party bank account;

• "cash out" the money received, possibly via several cashier’s checks;

• convert the money into a virtual currency;

• convert the money into a prepaid debit card;

• send the money through a money service business; or

• conduct a combination of these actions.

Money mules are inherently dangerous, as they add layers to the money trail from a victim to a criminal actor."1

How to know if you are being used as a Money Mule?

There are some individuals who are aware of their roles as money mules for illegally acquired funds, while others are victims of online scams who unknowingly serve as money mules. Criminals usually target college students, job applicants, online dating seekers, and retirees/elderly to fall for their fraud schemes.

To avoid the trap, the public is advised to watch out for the following suspicious signs:

• Receiving communications (via email, social media, or others) from unknown individuals/sources offering "easy money"schemes.

• Being asked by someone you met online to receive money in your bank/electronic money account, withdraw the funds, and give it to another unknown individual.

• Getting job offers from companies asking you to use your personal bank/electronic money account to "process" or "transfer" company funds.

Tips on how to stay safe online and avoid being a Money Mule

• NEVER GIVE your bank/electronic money account or any other personal information to untrusted or unknown sources.

• DO NOT ENTERTAIN calls from individuals claiming to be authorized bank/financial service representatives. Instead, you should directly communicate with your bank/financial service provider by contacting their official communications channels.

• DO NOT PROVIDE your financial information to someone you do not personally know, especially if you just met them online.

• AVOID THE TRAP of "easy money" schemes. If it seems too good to be true, it must be a SCAM.

• DO NOT ACCEPT any request to send or transfer money to/from your personal account, especially from unknown individuals or companies. If you think that you have received suspicious funds, do not touch the funds. Report the incident immediately to your bank or financial service provider and the police.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.