Phishing scam money mule claims he was threatened by bank and police officials


An unemployed Indian man who claims he became unwittingly involved in a phishing scam says he was threatened by bank officials and beaten up by police investigators.

D Sakthi Kumar, a resident of Nanmangalam in Chennai, alleges that pressure has been put on him to pay the 50,000 Indian Rupees (just over US $1000) that authorities have accused him of stealing.

According to reports, Kumar claims that he received an email from a company called Rose Textiles, offering him the job of ‘payment officer’ out of the blue, if he allowed them to put money into his account which he would then (after skimming off a 5% payment) move to another account.

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Seasoned readers of the Clu-blog will, of course, recognise that this is the classic story of the money mule. A phishing gang breaks into bank accounts and transfers money into an “innocent” third party account. They then request the third party, who may have no notiion of what they are mixed up in, to move the money elsewhere – often making it much harder for the authorities to determine its ultimate destination.

No doubt the authorities are now investigating Kumar’s claims of intimidation and brutality, as well as whether he was an innocent party caught in the midst of a phishing scam or simply someone who saw an opportunity to make easy money.

But the message for the rest of us is to be extremely suspicious of unsolicited job offer that arrive in your inbox. You may find yourself an accomplice in a cybercrime ring, and the police may not be sympathetic when they come knocking on your door.

* Image source: The Untrained Eye’s Flickr photostream (Creative Commons 2.0)

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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