Lately, there has been a lot of media focused on what is the called the shopping cart theory. In a nutshell, it essentially states that an individual’s capacity to self-govern depends on whether they are the type to return the shopping cart or leave it next to their car. The behavior is a testament to someone’s moral character. While the theory is debatable, it does raise an interesting question. What scenario is going on that would cause a person to leave the cart in the first place? What’s their story?

I start this blog sharing the shopping cart theory and raising the point that decisions are not often made without a history...without a reason why. Different scenarios can alter a person’s behavior, or willingness to do something, or in the case of the shopping cart, do nothing. Behaviors change based on the situation. In some instances, certain situations can influence a behavior that tests a person’s moral character and perhaps even break the law. Money mules would be a perfect example of this.

A money mule is someone who illegally transfers or moves money on behalf of someone else. By definition, being a money mule is illegal. But the question that needs to be asked is, what motivates someone to do it? The reasons are many and range from being complicit in the action and knowing exactly what is happening to being completely unaware that you are part of a money mule transaction.

Money mules are a significant problem for financial institutions. As more consumers take advantage of the ability to move funds to and from their accounts online, identifying fraudulent activity, specifically money mules, becomes more challenging. Some transactions can quickly be identified as fraudulent based on known information such as an unproven mobile device or improper use of personal information. However, identifying money mules is tricky because in many cases, it involves a genuine account and a genuine account holder’s actions. So again, I go back to the point that certain situations can influence behavior. Behavioral biometrics can help identify user behaviors that are abnormal for a genuine account holder and identify transactions that are at a much higher risk of being fraudulent.

BioCatch has recently announced the launch of a Mule Account Detection solution. The solution is designed to protect financial institutions from money laundering tacticsusing genuine accounts and genuine account holders as a part of their scheme. BioCatch Mule Account Detection is unique in that it maps behaviors against five money mule personas to determine if the action is fraudulent.


These personas range from complicit to unaware and are mapped to unique behavioral traits that can help financial institutions identify money laundering tactics and prevent a money mule transaction from happening. In future blogs, we will take a deeper look at each persona and behaviors associated with each. We will also look at a couple examples and share some background behind the money mule to add context and understanding as to why a genuine account holder may have actively participated in the transaction...and perhaps answer the question as to whether they are the type to return the shopping cart or not.

BioCatch continues to push the boundaries of human behavior analysis to protect financial institutions and their customers from the dangers of fraud. The BioCatch Mule Account Detection solution helps by running continuously in the background of every digital session, monitoring for anomalies that can suggest suspicious money mule activity. Help spread awareness by using #DontBeAMule and educate yourself on the different measures your financial institution is taking to protect you and prevent money laundering.

To learn more about mule accounts and how to stay protected, check out the latest DigitalTells podcast, “Are You A Mule?”or register for the upcoming webinar, Stop Muling Around: Best Practices for Mule Account Detection, taking place on December 16 in partnership with American Banker.

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