SURREY, B.C. — Police and the British Columbia Securities Commission say they have delivered warnings to 10 suspected “money mules” in an effort to fight investment fraud originating overseas and targeting people in the province.

A joint statement issued by the commission and RCMP says investigators have hand-delivered warning letters to people in Metro Vancouver who were suspected of transferring funds on behalf of criminals.

They say the use of the so-called mules is a common tactic in money laundering, helping criminals move their cash by concealing its source and destination.

In some cases, the securities commission says the mules might not realize they are transferring funds on behalf of criminals and they themselves may also be victims.

Cpl. Arash Seyed of the Mounties’ federal and serious organized crime unit says investigators believe that might be the case for some of the people who were handed warning letters last month.

He says the recipients range from international students to alleged criminals.

If people continue to move money after being warned not to do so, the commission says they could be charged with criminal or regulatory offences.

The goal in delivering the letters was to disrupt the criminal activity behind the funds, part of a larger investigative effort to clamp down on overseas investment fraud, Seyed says.

The securities commission saysit identified suspects to receive warning letters after uncovering information indicating they had sent or received money or cryptocurrency that had been obtained from victims of investment fraud.

The statement says criminals use a variety of tactics to recruit people to act as money mules, often offering a portion of the transferred funds as payment.

They may also lie about their identity, promise a job, or start an online friendship or romance, and the commission says the people transferring the money might think they’re helping a friend or performing a task for an online job.

The commission and police did not provide further details on the alleged criminal activity related to the 10 warning letters delivered last month.