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Thursday 8 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
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# Operation Ransom
People warned of consequences of becoming 'money mules' after 30 arrests by gardaí
Young people in particular are being targeted by criminal organisations.

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA has appealed to the public, particularly students and younger people, to not act has money mules for organised crime groups.

In a warning issued today, gardaí said there are consequences including arrests, charges and convictions for people who allow any individuals or groups to use their bank account, ATM card or pin number.

Thirty people have been arrested so far as part of An Garda Síochána’s Operation Ransom – an investigation into people allowing their bank accounts be used for organised crime groups to withdraw and deposit money stolen from other bank accounts.

In total, €1.5 million has been stolen so far. More arrests are expected.

Of the 30 people arrested throughout the country, 18 are male and 12 are female. The youngest person was 15 and the oldest was 38. Over half (16) of the people arrested were under the age of 18.

About 1,000 incidents of money mule transactions totalling in excess of €12 million have moved through bank accounts to date in 2020, according to the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland.

The vast majority of those incidents, 98%, have involved bank accounts belonging to those aged between 18 and 24 years of age.

“Young persons are being targeted by organised crime groups in secondary schools, college, online, and via social media. Most people are advised they will receive a percentage if they authorise the use of the account and see the chance to make easy and quick money,” gardaí said in a statement.

“However, in many instances, the organised crime group will clear the person’s account once the ATM card or pin number has been handed over and there is no monetary gain for the money mule.”

Instead, gardaí added, these people face being arrested, charged and convicted under the Money Laundering and Terrorism Act.

Conviction of up to 14 years

A conviction of this type carries a potential prison sentence of 14 years and could affect could visa applications to work in some countries; could place the person on terrorist watch lists; could affect their ability to work in financial sector; and could affect credit rating and vetting applications.

“In addition to this, the money mule is aiding international organised criminal groups and enhancing their capability to make money. This action is financing drug and people smuggling, terrorism and prostitution, among many other offences,” the statement added.

An Garda Síochána are advising parents to educate young people on the dangers of acting as money mules.

Gardaí say they are aware of hundreds of other incidents of young people acting as money mules in Ireland and more arrests are expected.

Gardaí have appealed to people to not allow their account be used by anyone else, to not give away their ATM card or their pin number and to not withdraw or transfer money that comes into their account.

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