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Europol, Eurojust, EBF step up their efforts to crack down on money mule schemes

Wednesday 4 December 2019 11:50 CET | News

Law enforcement authorities from 31 countries, supported by Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation (EBF), have stepped up their efforts to crack down on money mule schemes.

The fifth European Money Mule Action (EMMA 5) took place between September – November 2019, resulting in the identification of 3833 money mules alongside 386 money mule recruiters, of which 228 were arrested. 1025 criminal investigations were open, many of them are still ongoing. Europol and Eurojust organised various operational and coordination meetings in The Hague to discuss the unique approach of each Member State to tackle money mulling in their respective country.

More than 650 banks, 17 bank associations and other financial institutions helped to report 7520 fraudulent money mule transactions, preventing a total loss of EUR 12.9 million.

This year, law enforcement, judicial and financial authorities from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria,  Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Moldova, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ukraine participated in this international swoop.

Money mules, unlike their drug-trade counterparts, are not shuffling illicit goods over a physical border. Instead, they take part – often unknowingly - in money laundering activities by receiving and transferring illegally obtained money between bank accounts and/or countries.

Recruiters of money mules are coming up with ingenious ways to lure in their candidates. In 2019, cases involving romance scams were reported on the rise, with criminals increasingly recruiting money mules on online dating sites, grooming their victims over time to convince them to open bank accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds.

Criminals are also more and more turning to social media to recruit new accomplices through get-rich-quick online advertisements. This technique is particularly popular when it comes to targeting students and young adults.

Even if money mules act unwittingly, they are committing a crime. Law enforcement will turn first to whoever’s name features on the bank account, and the legal consequences can be severe. Depending on the country’s legal framework, mules may face lengthy imprisonments and acquire a criminal record that could seriously affect the rest of their lives, such as never being able to secure a mortgage or open a bank account.

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Keywords: Europol, Eurojust, money laundering, money mulre AML, law enforcement, romance scams, social engineering, banks, fraud prevention, Europe, bank account
Categories: Securing Transactions | Digital Identity, Security & Online Fraud
Countries: Europe
This article is part of category

Securing Transactions