STUDENTS are being warned of criminals who are trying to dupe them into becoming money mules for international gangs.
Gardaí in Cork are renewing an appeal to people not to be lured by promises of commissions to get involved in money muling.
In December, gardaí revealed that up to 420 money mules have been identified in Ireland and that five people responsible for recruiting mules had also been found.
Gardaí in Cork have received reports from financial institutions alerting them to accounts which are being used to transfer money, often in different countries. A garda source said: “There would be quite a few but many are caught before the money is transferred.”
As well as transferring money, mules are also asked to make their accounts available to receive money which is then withdrawn and wired overseas, according to gardaí.
A garda spokesman said: “Even if money mules are not involved in the crimes which generate the money (cybercrime, payment and online fraud, drugs and human trafficking), they are acting illegally by laundering the proceeds of crime, helping criminal syndicates move funds easily around the world and remain anonymous.”
He added: “If you are caught acting as a money mule, even if done so unwittingly, you can face a prison sentence, fine or community service, and the prospect of never again being able to secure a mortgage or open a bank account.”
Students are regularly targeted by criminals seeking mules because they know that students need money.
They also target recently-arrived immigrants, and people who are unemployed.
Mules are typically recruited through job advertisements, seeking “money transfer agents”; online posts; direct approach through email or in person; social media groups, and instant messaging tools including WhatsApp and Viber.
While the approach may seem genuine, email addresses used by criminals for money muling will be web-based — such as Yahoo, Hotmail or Google.