Was an Apple gift card or video game under the Menorah or Christmas tree this recent holiday season?
Well, it may have come to you via a mule. Slow down PETA members, I'm actually not talking about a new method of transit via animals, I am talking about money mules.
The Feds recently busted a major, multi million dollar ring involving two exchange students in Minnesota. The dynamic duo, from Vietnam, are believed to be the masterminds behind a major scheme using counterfeit credit cards and taking advantage of online auctions and online stores.
It is believed that Apple, Dell, Verizon, Amazon, Paypal, eBay, and even Rosetta Stone lost money due to these alleged cybercriminals.
Investigators believe they have uncovered 180+ eBay accounts and roughly 360 PayPal accounts that were established by this ring under false information. The tally of their evil looting? Possibly $1.25 million.
How did they pull it off? With money mules that wired them the money. Mules are people that might be people duped into "work at home" schemes and have no idea they are part of a mule ring. Some mules know exactly what they are doing. The mules are believed to be US based and the scam ran in the U.S., Vietnam, and Canada.
"Cyber crime trail leads to Winona State students - Feds say a transnational cyber crime ring based in Vietnam has ties to two exchange students", Dan Browning, Star Tribune, January 3, 2011.
"Foreign-exchange Students Linked to Vietnamese Cyber-Crime Gang", Camille Tuutti, The New New Internet, January 3, 2011.
" 'Operation eMule' Feds Bust Duo with 500+ eBay, PayPal Accounts", John Leyden, The Register, January 5, 2011.