GARDAÍ are urging parents and grandparents to educate young people on the dangers of becoming money mules.
The warning is being made as the college year gets under way and at a time when a number of investigations are under way into money mules in Cork.
Crime prevention officer for Cork North, Sergeant John Kelly, urged parents and grandparents to talk to young people who are heading off to college about the danger of letting someone use their bank accounts.
He said: “Under no circumstances should people allow others to use their bank account. It could leave young girls and boys with convictions for money laundering.”
Investigations into such activity are carried out under the Money Laundering and Terrorism Act. A conviction under this legislation carries a maximum 14-year sentence and can also affect a person’s credit rating.
Last month, The Echo revealed there are close to 20 investigations into money mules being carried out in Cork City and county.
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.
Gardaí 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.
However, 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.