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Money mules are an essential cog in the machinery of international Internet theft. Commonly they are recruited through an Internet job site or via spam email by off-shore thieves.

The thieves use spear phishing or other means to get the banking credentials of businesses, government bodies or non-profit groups. They transfer money from their victim’s banks to their money mules’ bank accounts. The mules are told to wire the cash to the thieves via untraceable international transfer services minus a 10 percent commission.

Here is a recruiting spam email. The attachment “Position offer!” is a text file. That’s to avoid email filtering.

(click on graphic to enlarge)

Your first line of defense is: DON’T OPEN SPAM ATTACHMENTS!

But, let’s assume you’re desperate for a job and bite at this.

If you do read something like this, look for bad English grammar and non-standard capitalization, punctuation and spelling.

(Below we’ve cut just the important parts out of a monster 920-word document.)

The pitch:

Dear Sir/Ma,

    Would you like to work online from Home/Temporarily and get paid weekly? We are glad to offer you for a job position at our company, Tangram Interior We need someone to work for the company as a Representative/Bookkeeper in the USA. This is in view of our not having an office presently in the USA.

The bait (which is always WAAAY too good to be true):

* The average monthly income is about 4000.00 USD.
* No form of investments from you.
* This job takes only 1-3 hours per day

The setup:

Your tasks are;
1. Receive payment from Customers
2. Cash Payment at your Bank
3. Deduct 10% which will be your percentage/pay on Payment processed
4. Forward balance after deduction of percentage/pay to any of the offices you will be contacted to send payment to. (Payment is to be forwarded by Western Union Money Transfer).

Who to contact to hook yourself:
A swift acknowledgment of the receipt of this email will be appreciated.

Thanks For Your Total Understanding.
Harry Jones,
Staffing and Recruiting Dept,
Regional Manager,
Tangram Interior.

The defense: do some research:

A Web search for “Tangram Interior” turned up the company’s web site. Checking out their location(s) revealed this:

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A vast, sprawling corporate headquarters in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., as well as huge locations in Santa Ana, Woodland Hills and Riverside, Calif.

Does that seem like a company that has no accounts-receivable staff in the U.S.?

Do you think it’s going to be offering jobs using a non-company email account? (

And, a check of Tangram’s “employment” page turns up this:

“Important public notice.
“Our Company is a victim of an Internet scam.  Unscrupulous individual(s) are using our Company name and our website to perpetrate a fraud.  If you receive an email regarding a job opening that invites you to work from home and process payments (money orders or money drafts) please do not respond.”
. . .
That’s a whole lot of clues.

Tom Kelchner