Gardaí are investigating a €2m money laundering operation involving around 200 so-called money mule bank accounts.
Gardaí said money-mules are people who allow their banks accounts to be used by others for a fee.
Investigators said young people are often targeted by organised crime gangs to act as mules – and often may not be aware that their accounts are being used for criminal activity.
Gardaí said they are currently investigating accounts across the country that were used to transfer amounts ranging from £5,000 to £35,000 to a foreign financial institution.
The money is made up of the proceeds of a multi-million Euro fraud operation.
Gardaí are warning members of the public, and especially young people, never to allow your bank account to be used by someone else.
Detective Inspector Catharina Gunne from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said that if you act as a money mule, knowingly or unknowingly, you are committing the offence of money laundering.
“Money laundering is a serious offence which on convictions carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment,” she said.
“This will have a serious impact on your future travel plans, career opportunities, vetting and credit ratings.”
Creating Fraud Awareness
Gardaí today launched the "Creating Fraud Awareness” campaign on college campuses around the country.
It follows a new survey from FraudSMART which found that 43% of 18 to 24-year-olds are willing to act as money mules.
It found that one-in-five have been approached or know someone who has been approached by someone aiming to use their bank details.
Some 29% of adults said they would be willing to act as a money mule.
Meanwhile, over 1,600 Money Mule cases were reported by the main Irish banks in 2018.
Niamh Davenport, Head of Fraud Prevention for the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) said money mules are a growing reality in Ireland today.
"We understand that young adults are trying to juggle work and study with an active social life, with all kinds of costs to cover and it can be very tempting when someone offers you the chance to earn extra cash quickly for little effort,” she said.
“We’re urging young people to be smart when it comes to money mule recruitment, whether it’s someone asking for a favour or promising payment.
“Know the warning signs, understand the risks and check with someone you really trust if you’re unsure.”
Gardaí have issued this Crime Prevention advice
- Do not allow anyone to use your bank account.
- Do not share personal bank account data.
- Do not send or receive money.
- Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true it most likely is.