THE HAGUE Money mules arrested in European sting
EUROPEAN and US law officials arrested at least 178 people in an international swoop against so-called “money mules” who helped launder millions of dollars.
Across Europe, some 580 suspected “money mules” – people recruited to act as laundering agents for criminal gangs – were identified during last week’s operation, judicial cooperation agency Eurojust and Europol said.
“After receiving the illegally obtained funds into their accounts, the individuals acting as money mules are asked to wire the money into a different account,” said a joint statement, which also included the European Banking Federation.
“These schemes are often disguised as legitimate job opportunities and the mules may keep some of the money for themselves as a commission,” it said, adding that an estimated 23 million euros was laundered globally.
The mules played a crucial role in money laundering as criminal networks gain access to stolen goods or funds without revealing their own identities.
If caught, they face jail time, a fine, community service or having to refund the proceeds to victims, said the agencies, who assisted 14 EU countries as well as Ukraine and Moldova, with the help of the FBI and the US Secret Service, the statement said. –