Euro Police Arrest Over 100 Money Mules

Euro Police Arrest Over 100 Money Mules

European law enforcers are celebrating after identifying hundreds of money mules and making over 100 arrests as part of a coordinated global clampdown.

During the European Money Mule Action (EMMA) which ran from November 20-24, police from 26 countries supported by Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation (EBF) made 159 arrests.

In addition, cops claimed to have identified 766 money mules and conducted 409 interviews. Importantly, the operation targeted not only the mules themselves but also their organizers — 59 of whom were identified.

Money mules are recruited by cybercrime gangs to launder cash stolen in online campaigns, often lured by the promise of easy cash.

Many are unaware that they’re actually playing a vital role in the cybercrime ecosystem, with police claiming that the funds they help launder are often pumped back into organised crime — including drug dealing, human trafficking and online fraud.

In the EMMA campaign period, Europol claimed that support from 257 banks and private-sector partners uncovered 1719 money mule transactions, with total losses amounting to almost €31m (£27m, $37m).

Some 90% of these were linked to cybercrime offenses including phishing, online auction fraud, Business Email Compromise (BEC) and CEO fraud.

“EMMA3 shows how a close public-private partnership between law enforcement, judicial authorities and the banking sector is essential to effectively tackle the illegal activity of money muling. We remain fully committed to working together in the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes and to further support joint initiatives like EMMA,” noted a statement from Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation.

The news comes as new stats from Cifas on Monday revealed the number of UK money mules aged 18-24 has doubled since 2013, and risen 75% from last year to this.

“Uncovering these money muling schemes and informing the public are vital to prevent criminals from taking advantage of unsuspecting individuals,” the Europol statement continued. “Legitimate companies will never ask individuals to use their bank accounts or transfer money through their accounts. Nobody should give access, or provide their bank accounts or electronic wallets, to unknown or untrusted people.’’

Source: Information Security Magazine