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BPFI supports Europol EMMA campaign to combat money laundering

5th December 2018

Over 1,500 money mules identified in worldwide money laundering sting

  • 168 arrested, 1,504 money mules and 140 money mule organisers identified, as a result of the fourth European Money Mule Action ‘EMMA 4’, a global law enforcement action week tackling the issue of money muling.
  • The action took place over the course of three months (September-November 2018).
  • 30 States took part in EMMA 4, alongside Europol, Eurojust, the European Banking Federation, supported by more than 300 banks.

Working together with Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation (EBF), police forces from over 20 States have arrested 168 people (so far) as part of a coordinated money laundering crackdown, the European Money Mule Action (EMMA). This international swoop, the fourth of its kind, is intended to tackle the issue of ‘money mules’, who help criminals launder millions of euros worth of dirty money.

Mr Keith Gross, BPFI Head of Financial Crime and Security said: ”The EMMA initiative is about the financial sector, law enforcement agencies and other key stakeholders joining forces in tackling the illegal activity of money muling across borders.

The key message of the EMMA 4 awareness campaign “#Don’t be a Mule” is not to sell your identity and allow your bank account to be used by criminals to move stolen money or proceeds of crime because in doing so you are enabling money laundering and engaging in illegal activity which can have severe legal consequences”

Held over the course of the past three months, this year’s EMMA campaign saw participation from law enforcement agencies in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Moldova, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Across Europe and beyond, 1,504 money mules were identified, leading to the arrest of 168, and 140 money mule organisers. 837 criminal investigations were opened, many of them are still ongoing. More than 300 banks, 20 bank associations and other financial institutions helped to report 26376 fraudulent money mule transactions, preventing a total loss of €36,1 million. The wider community of global and European banks provided support where needed during the three months of action and committed to raising awareness in their country. Once again, this highlights the importance of a quick and coordinated response by law enforcement and the banking sector.

Why do people help criminals launder money?

Money mules are individuals who, often unwittingly, have been recruited by criminal organisations as money laundering agents to hide the origin of ill-gotten money. Tricked by the promise of easy money, mules transfer stolen funds between accounts, often in different States, on behalf of others and are usually offered a share of the funds that pass through their own accounts.

Newcomers to a State, the unemployed, and people in economic distress often feature among the most susceptible to this crime. This year, cases involving young people selected by money mule recruiters are on the rise, with criminals increasingly targeting financially-distressed students to gain access to their bank accounts.

While mules are being recruited via numerous routes, criminals are more and more turning to social media to recruit new accomplices, through the advertisement of fake jobs or get-rich-quick posts.

Although this may sound like quick and easy money — all it takes is a click to transfer money from an account to another — permitting a criminal group to use one’s bank account can have severe legal consequences. Mules may face lengthy imprisonments and acquire a criminal record that could seriously affect the rest of their lives, such as never being able to secure a mortgage or open a bank account.



Note: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has over 70 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880

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