From the CHDS Theses Executive Summaries

Outstanding Thesis Award Winner, March 2023

Laundering Love: A Multi-Case Analysis of the Evolution of Romance Scam Victims into Co-Offending Money Mules

“Honey this our opportunity to be together mylove, i will never do anything that will hurt you, mylove noting bad is going to happen, i promise the money there is my money and its legit money and i trust you that is why you my beneficiary” (AS1 to AV1.1, August 2020). This text message, taken from historical communications between an offender and victim in a romance scam, illustrates the type of narrative offenders use to justify transferring money through victims’ bank accounts. When victims participate, they act as “money mules” and help launder funds from other frauds. According to FBI reporting, romance scams result in significant financial harm to individuals, with losses approaching $1 billion in 2021. The fact that offenders groom money mules from among romance scam victims exacerbates the danger these scams pose. 

By Christopher Huhn

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