Woman dragged girlfriend into money laundering for criminals
A “naive” young woman who was recruited as a money mule to launder thousands of euro through her bank account ended up dragging her girlfriend into the crime, a court heard.
Keelin Murphy allowed fraudsters to transfer more than €9,000 in criminal proceeds to her, then moved €2,000 of it into her then-girlfriend Chloe O’Driscoll’s account.
Dublin District Court heard Murphy had been persuaded to hand her bank details over to an “acquaintance”, while O’Driscoll agreed to get involved out of “misguided loyalty” to Murphy.
The pair were caught when gardaí carried out a major investigation into a €1.3million “smishing” attack, targeting bank customers.
Judge Bryan Smyth ordered restorative justice programme reports and adjourned the cases.
Murphy (21) of Cedarwood Road, Finglas East, pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering. She admitted to engaging in converting, transferring, handling, acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of criminal conduct .
This related to a sum of €9,470 at Bank of Ireland, Ballygall Road, Finglas on August 14, 2019. It also related to €2,000 at the Bank of Ireland on O’Connell Street, Dublin, on the same date.
O’Driscoll (22) of Claddagh Road, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering relating to the €2,000 sum.
Gardaí told the court that, in 2019, Bank of Ireland reported a smishing text attack in which 243 customers had unauthorised transfers on their accounts. This resulted in the bank refunding €1.3m to customers, of which €653,000 had since been recovered, leaving Bank of Ireland at a loss of approximately €650,000.
A large-scale investigation was launched and a transfer of €9,470 into Ms Murphy’s account was identified. On the same date – August 14, 2019 – there were numerous withdrawals, as well as online and in-store transactions. There was also a €2,000 transfer into O’Driscoll’s account.
When questioned, Murphy made admissions in relation to her role as a “money mule”, a garda said.
Defence solicitor Lorraine Stephens said the bulk of the amount in the initial offence was handed over to the people “who had a greater role”. Murphy had been “naive” and there was duress and “certainly influence” by others.
Murphy had been approached by someone she considered a friend who was really an acquaintance, Ms Stephens said.
She provided him with her bank account details and PIN number after he informed her that he was getting money transferred to him from a friend in Northern Ireland.
When she saw the amount, Murphy realised something was amiss, Ms Stephens said. She then “dragged her girlfriend in”. While she had agreed to the transfer, this was more out of “recklessness”.
What happened led to a breakdown in the relationship between the two. Murphy was ashamed and remorseful for bringing her girlfriend into it.
O’Driscoll had been in an “impossible situation” and became involved out of “misguided loyalty to a person she was in a relationship with”.