CLOSE to 20 investigations into money mules are currently being carried out in Cork city and county.
Gardai in the three Cork garda divisions are currently carrying out the investigations under Operation Adverb and Operation Ransom. There are 18 cases being investigated in Cork, and they are among up to 40 in total being carried out across the entire southern garda region.
The investigations are focused on people suspected of allowing their bank accounts to be used for organised crime groups to withdraw and deposit money which was stolen from other bank accounts.
In May, one person was arrested in Cork by gardaí investigating money mule offences. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
According to gardaí, young people and those who have money difficulties are being recruited to act as money mules. Gardai say that young people in particular are being targeted by organised crime groups in secondary schools, college, online, and via social media. In order to make it an attractive proposition, people are promised a percentage of the money if they allow their account to be used.
But gardaí warn that in many incidents, the crime group behind the crime clear out the person’s bank account, leaving the money mule to gain nothing.
A garda spokesman today urged people who have been approached to become a money mule: “Do not do it. It could have implications in a number of ways, including not being able to get a visa to travel.” It could also impact on a person’s credit rating.
Investigations are carried out under the Money Laundering and Terrorism Act. A conviction under this legislation carries a maximum 14 year sentence.