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Fortinet's threat report highlights increased Zeus and money mule risks

MIS Asia staff writer | Nov. 2, 2010
Mules are typically recruited into criminal organisations through legitimate-looking advertisements

SINGAPORE, 2 NOVEMBER 2010 - Internet users can expect to encounter more Zeus activities and money mules, according to Fortinet's October 2010 Threat Landscape report.

As outlined in our 2010 Threat Predictions Realized' report, money mules have been aggressively recruited this year to help cyber criminals launder money, said Derek Manky, project manager, cyber security and threat research, Fortinet. A recent example of this is the worldwide prosecutions of a Zeus criminal operation, which included 37 charges brought against alleged money mules.

Recent Zeus stories illustrate how prevalent money mules have become and how they are being used to filter, disguise and spread money transfers. Mules today are typically recruited into criminal organisations through legitimate-looking advertisements. A suspect ad may suggest a client is looking for a payment processing agent, money transfer agent or something as general and vague as an administrative representative.

These recruitment ads can be found anywhere from print and online job sites to direct points of contact. While many mules enter into the business relationship knowing the full criminal implications of what they're doing, there are a surprising number that do not.

One of the most recent money mule recruitment e-mails FortiGuard flagged this month began the subject line with, "Re: CV. The body of the e-mail offered the recipient an "administrative representative" position for a proposed salary of US$6,944 per month plus commission. One of the listed job duties was to "administer day-to-day financial responsibilities for clients", as well as prepare weekly financial reports.

The majority of opportunities we're seeing today offer prospects of roughly 10 per cent commission for any transfers they make, Manky continued. With a few simple clicks, a US$13,889 transfer could net the mule roughly US$1,389.  

 

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