With the collaboration of Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation (EBF), police forces from over 20 states arrested some 170 people as part of a coordinated action to combat capital laundering, the EMMA –European Action against Money Mules. The objective of this action, carried out during the last term of 2018, was to address the problem of money mules, which collaborate with criminals to “launder millions”.
Of the EMMA 2018 results, the following are particularly noteworthy:
- Over 1,500 money mules were identified in worldwide action against capital laundering.
- 168 arrests and 140 organisers of money mules were identified.
Over 300 banks, 20 banking associations and other financial entities took part and informed of a total of 26,376 operations of fraudulent mules, helping to avoid the loss of over 36 million Euros. This stresses the importance of a rapid and coordinated response between the police and the banking sector.
Money mules are people who, at times without being aware of it, have been recruited by criminal organisations as money laundering agents to conceal the origin of the damage caused. Motivated by the promise of easy money, the mules transfer the sums stolen between accounts, often in different states, under the name of others, and they generally offer part of the amount that makes its way through their own accounts.
Those most susceptible of committing these crimes would be new arrivals, the unemployed and people with economic difficulties, although recruiters of money mules are increasing pressure on students with economic difficulties.
Money mules are recruited in several ways, but recently criminals increasingly look on social networks to recruit new collaborators, with promises of false job opportunities.
This can appear to be fast and easy money, as only a click is necessary to transfer money from one account to another, but allowing a criminal group to use the bank account of another person can have serious legal consequences.
To inform of this kind of fraud, the awareness-raising campaign #DontBeAMule was developed over the last term of 2018 all over Europe.
With awareness raising material, which can be downloaded in 25 languages, the campaign informed the public about how these criminals work, how to protect oneself and what to do if they become victims.