The worsening economy appears to be helping computer crooks with one of their toughest tasks, reports the Associated Press: tricking people into opening their homes and bank accounts and becoming "mules" for laundering money or stolen goods. The scams themselves aren’t new. They’re pitched in spam eMails as "work-at-home" jobs that promise excellent part-time money for helping companies pay clients in other countries. The victims are asked to open new bank accounts in their names, agree to accept anonymous payments into those accounts, and forward those payments by way of money transfer, usually to locations in Eastern Europe. The scam is classic money laundering with an internet twist. The money is generally real, and the middleman is promised a cut. What those middlemen might not know is they’re trafficking in ill-gotten gains and helping criminals pay each other while disguising the source. And the mules are often the ones at the greatest risk of arrest. Savvy computer users usually identify this as a scam. But security researchers say more people are willing to take a risk on the come-ons as unemployment rises and the volume of the mule eMails increases. "When people are scared of a job going away, or they’re worried about having money to pay bills, they might look at something like this in a different light than when things are rosy and great," said David Marcus, McAfee’s director of security research and communications…

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