Gardaí warn college students against becoming money mules as 18-24 age group being targeted by criminal gangs
October 26 2022 09:18 AM UP DATED BY FRED BASSETT
Third level students are being warned by gardaí not to become money mules for criminal gangs and say the penalties for such an offence include lengthy prison sentences.
Gardaí believe there are at least 4,000 bank accounts in Ireland used by criminal gangs to transfer stolen or ill-gotten cash.
This comes as more than €12m has been illegally transferred via money-mule accounts in the first half of this year, the latest figures from the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) reveal.
BPFI reported that the number of bank accounts linked to money mules stood at 3,000 in the first half of 2022, almost doubling from a year earlier.
The data also illustrated that the average sum which moves through money-mule accounts now stands at €4,000.
The majority of money-mule accounts that have been discovered belonged to those aged between 18 and 24.
A Money Mule is a person who allows their account to be used for the transfer of other’s stolen or illegal money. While they may or may not be aware of the crime, they are complicit if they allow their account to be used to launder the proceeds of criminality.
Vulnerable people such as those who are new to the country, students, people who are unemployed or under financial pressure are also likely to be targeted by criminals, Gardaí said. Those who purchase illegal drugs may also be offered to pay off their drug debt by becoming a money mule.
Gardaí are warning students through their #SafeAtCollege campaign that, if convicted, they could face prison, will have a criminal conviction with a lifetime criminal record, face extradition to the country where the predicate crime occurred, and won’t be permitted to open another bank account.
Earlier this month, An Garda Síochána confirmed that over 830 money mules had been identified in Ireland in the past number of years.
Speaking today, Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) sai those who agree to allow their bank account to be used for the transfer of illegally obtained money may not necessarily realise that they are enabling very dangerous international criminal organisations and are involving themselves with these criminals.
“It seems quite simple and at the same time quite lucrative, but the reality is that those who allow their bank account to be used are taking a huge personal risk. More than that, they are in essence assisting ruthless criminals involved in human trafficking, people smuggling, terrorism, and even wars.
“An Garda Síochána is sending this warning because it isn’t the hardened criminals face on CCTV at an ATM. It isn’t their phone number or bank account details linked to the transfer of illegal gains – it’s those of the money mule – if an offer sounds too good to be true it probably is. There is no easy money to be made,” Det Supt Cryan said.