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Press Release

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Announces Participation in National Money Mule Initiative; Obtains Three Civil Injunctions Against Alleged Money Mules Involved in Lottery Scams

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA, PA - United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced her office’s participation in the Department of Justice’s Annual Money Mule Initiative, a national effort to combat money mule fraud schemes.

Money mules are individuals who are recruited by national and international fraud schemes to help with the laundering of fraud proceeds, or to transport goods purchased with fraud proceeds. These individuals are usually recruited online, through dating websites, job recruiting advertisements, or other types of internet solicitations. The money mules are then asked to help move money and goods from the victims to the fraudsters, who are oftentimes located overseas.

Sometimes the money mules are themselves innocent victims who do not realize that they are assisting with criminal activity. Other times, however, the money mules come to realize that what they are doing is wrong and/or illegal. When this happens, the money mules become knowing participants in the fraud schemes they are assisting and are subject to prosecution.

“Identifying and disrupting the work of money mules is critically important, as money mules are integral components of many organized criminal groups, including international fraud rings,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “We are committed to working with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to disrupt money mule networks in an effort to cut off the flow of funds from victims of fraud schemes – often elderly and vulnerable Americans – to transnational criminal organizations.”

“I am pleased to announce today that the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Attorney’s Office are taking steps to stem the flow of victim money leaving the United States through the hands of money mules,” said Christopher Nielsen, Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the Postal Inspection Service.  “For many years, we as Postal Inspectors have developed various initiatives to combat the flow of illegal proceeds being sent through the mail to foreign countries.  Taking steps to not only educate our customers, but to bring law enforcement action against perpetrators, will stem the flow of financial loss.  These efforts aside, the most effective way to reduce fraud victimization of American citizens is for friends and family to simply look out for one another.  If you become aware that someone close to you sends Postal Money Orders, cash, or gift cards through the mail, or through other shipping services, to foreign countries, take a moment to talk to that person about these activities and notify the Postal Inspection Service if you suspect fraud.  You might help save them from significant financial loss.”

In the last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania filed three separate civil complaints and civil injunctions against alleged money mules accused of participating in lottery fraud schemes based in Jamaica and Nigeria. Architects of lottery schemes contact potential victims, falsely claim that those victims have won the lottery, and thereby induce the victims to send money to account for taxes and fees purportedly associated with victims’ falsely promised lottery winnings.

In these schemes, money mules play a critical role by receiving victim payments by mail and wire transfer, depositing the payments into their bank accounts, and allowing access to those accounts by individuals in Jamaica engaged in the scheme. The defendants are alleged to have received victim payments by mail or common carrier, deposited the payments into their bank accounts, and then transferred the funds by wire transfer to individuals engaged in the schemes in Jamaica and Nigeria.

Each defendant has agreed to a stipulated consent decree and order of permanent injunction. The stipulated order bans the alleged money mules from directly or indirectly, assisting, facilitating, or participating in any lottery scheme, prize promotion fraud, or any money transmitting business.

The complaints and civil injunction actions (civil action numbers 23-cv-1844, 23-cv-1885, and 23‑cv-1886) were filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. These cases are being handled by Assistant United States Attorney David A. Degnan. The investigations were conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Members of the public are reminded to be careful of individuals they meet online. If those individuals ask you to receive or transfer funds or goods, purchase gift cards, or engage in any type of suspicious activity, please report this activity to law enforcement.

To find public education materials, as well as information about how fraudsters use and recruit money mules, please visit

Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).   

Updated May 25, 2023

Financial Fraud