During the week of 14 to 18 November 2016, the second course of European action was taken against money mules, with the support of The European Cybercrime Centre which is part of Europol; the Joint Cybercrime Action Task Force, Eurojust and the European Bank Federation. During the operation, different law-enforcement agencies from 14 EU member states and Moldavia and Ukraine, the FBI and the European Union secret service, along with judicial services, 106 banks and other private partners. The operation, which identified 580 money mules, resulted in the detention of 178 people. The first operation, with 81 arrests, was carried out at the end of February 2016.
Europol defines money mules as people who transfer money obtained illegally using different bank accounts, often in different countries, on behalf of third parties. As over 90% of such transactions are related to cybercrime, Europol’s fight against money mules involves the field of fraud and payment systems (one of the four areas in which operational priorities are identified for security services to address internet-related crime).
The Europol website devotes a page to money mules as part of a section aimed at raising public awareness and prevention, with a clear warning about the illegality of such conduct, describing the activities of mules, how they are recruited, what kind of people recruiters look for, the warning signs associated with proposing such activities, how citizens can be protected and what to do if such activities are suggested.
As well as the information on the webpage, posters and flyers have also been published and these can be downloaded in their generic version in English and in versions which are translated and adapted to 13 different countries.