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Money Laundering

Gardaí warn students not to become 'money mules': 'No bank account, no visa and you'll go to jail'

Gardaí said they have arrested around 100 money mules in the last year.

GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED the public, particularly young people, not to become ‘money mules’. 

An Oireachtas Finance Committee was told today that gardaí have arrested more than 100 people suspected of being money mules, stating that cases are on the rise. 

A money mule is where criminal gangs ask students for the use of their bank accounts, they transfer money into their account, leave it there for a period of time and then transfer it back out leaving an amount for the student for the use of the account.

This is often seen as “easy money for students” but gardaí want to warn them that there could be implications for them if they get involved and that students can end up being charged with fraud themselves.

Being charged and convicted of this offence can have serious implications for students, including being banned from travelling to certain countries such as the United States.  

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan told committee members that people are being recruited as money mules through social media, with promises of easy money, or by friends.

In almost all cases, the initial payment is transferred to what is known as a money mule. Once received into the mule account, the funds are rapidly dissipated through the legitimate banking channels to the ultimate benefit of the controlling organised crime group.

If convicted of these serious criminal offences, a person could face a prison term of between five years and ten years. 

Cryan said the gardaí have been travelling around colleges as part of an awareness campaign for students to not get involved. 

Last year, the gardaí wrote to Justice Minister Simon Harris over concerns that a high number of third-level students were being used to help launder money for criminal gangs. 

Cryan said the message gardaí want to get across to young people is that if they are caught being a money mule for criminals, they will find it “extremely difficult” to ever get a bank account again. They will also not get a visa to travel abroad to places like the US. 

He reiterated that sometimes a payment is never made to the money mule, but that it is also an office to even promise or allow someone else take over your bank account for such purposes. 

It also is not just the transfer money – the offence also includes taking cash out of an account via an ATM for such purposes. 

“A money laundering conviction is very serious… you are getting into bed with serious organised crime,” said Cryan, who said these transactions help fund other criminality around the world.

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