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'Money mule' warning issued by gardaí as €2 million fraud investigation gets underway

The practice involves criminals recruiting people to help launder stolen or illegal money.

Image: Shutterstock.com

GARDAÍ HAVE ISSUED a warning to students at risk of becoming “money mules” for criminals after 1,600 cases were reported by Irish banks last year. 

The “money mule” practice involves criminals recruiting people to help launder stolen or illegal money using their bank account, often unwittingly. Gardaí have said students are often targeted by the practice. 

“The chance to earn a ‘quick buck’ is a tactic used by fraudsters to recruit money mules, who are promised a share of the proceeds in exchange for their bank account details,” gardaí said in a statement today.

TheJournal.ie reported last year that young people in Ireland were being targeted by criminals who convince them to allow their bank accounts to be used to illegally transfer money.

A new survey for Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, part of its FraudSMART initiative, found that over 40% of 18-24-year olds are willing to act as “money mules”. 

The survey also found that 14% within the same category say that they or someone they know were approached by another to use their bank details to store money.

An investigation into a €2 million money laundering fraud involving these so-called accounts has now commenced, gardaí have said. 

The investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau involves approximately 200 “money mule” accounts and consists of transactions ranging from £5,000 to £35,000 to accounts abroad.

Advice issued to students by gardaí includes not allowing anyone to use their bank account, not sharing personal bank details. Gardaí have also advised students not to share or receive money.

Niamh Davenport, Head of Fraud Prevention who leads the BPFI’s FraudSMART programme has urged young people “to be smart” when it comes to possible money mule recruitment. 

“We understand that young adults are trying to juggle work and study with an active social life, with all kinds of costs to cover and it can be very tempting when someone offers you the chance to earn extra cash quickly for little effort.”

“We’re urging young people to be smart when it comes to money mule recruitment, whether it’s someone asking for a favour or promising payment. Know the warning signs, understand the risks and check with someone you really trust if you’re unsure.”

The €2 million investigation is at a very early stage, gardaí have said. No arrests have been made to date. 

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