STUDENTS are being recruited through social media apps such as Snapchat to become money mules as part of an international fraud operation.
Gardaí in Cork are warning young people not to be persuaded to act as money mules, and stressed that they could be prosecuted for money laundering if they are caught.
They are also urging parents to talk to their teenage children about the impact of being involved in such a fraud.
A garda source said: "Young people are being asked to hand over their account details to facilitate frauds.
"We would ask parents to talk to their children about this. Snapchat messages are being used to recruit young people."
Students are being used by criminals seeking people to hold money in their bank accounts, thereby becoming money mules.
Those with debts, including drug debts, are also being exploited by “money herders” seeking mules.
The mules are paid a commission as little a couple of hundred euro to allow their accounts be used to hold or transfer several thousands of euro.
However, gardaí warn that those acting as mules can end up being prosecuted for money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
The funds are being laundered by international criminals who are recruiting money mules whose bank accounts are being used to transfer money between accounts, often in different countries.
As well as transferring money, mules's accounts can also be used to receive money which is then withdrawn and wired overseas.