The number of money mule incidents investigated in Cork city has almost doubled in the past year, with one account used to handle transfers totalling €50,000.
Analysis of the 34 incidents recorded to date this year shows that half of the suspects under investigation were aged between 17 and 23 years.
Crime prevention officer for Cork city garda division, Sergeant Brian McSweeney, said there were 18 such cases in Cork city last year – a massive jump from just three in 2019. He revealed that the smallest sum of money transferred in this year’s incidents was €500 and the largest was €50,000.
Money mules allow others to use their bank accounts for money transfers by other people. The money is typically the proceeds of crime. While the mule may not be aware of the crimes of those using their accounts, gardaí say they are complicit by allowing their accounts to be used to launder crime proceeds.
Sergeant McSweeney said: “Students are often targeted by organised crime gangs to act as money mules, laundering thousands of euro through their accounts in exchange for a few hundred euro. Anti-money laundering legislation is designed to prevent Organised Crime Gang members from opening up accounts so they need money mules to launder their money.
Students are an easy target for these ‘money herders’. They are often approached online, on campus, or while out socialising.
He advised: “If you agree to allow your account be used in this way you are committing the offence of money laundering. Money laundering is a serious offence which on conviction carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.”
Gardaí liaise with financial institutions in rela