GARDAÍ in Limerick are alerting people to be aware of organised crime gangs offering financial incentives to become money mules, as the risk of being caught up in criminal activity of this kind increases.
Limerick Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Ber Leetch described a money mule as a person “who allows his or her account to be used for the transfer of another person’s stolen or illegal money”, explaining that the account holder will usually be offered or receive a sum of money from criminal gangs for the undertaking.
“While some may be aware that they are working as a money mule others in vulnerable groups may be unaware.
Despite their intentions or lack of awareness, Sgt Leetch says those involved are still complicit in criminal activity by “recklessly allowing their account to be used to launder the proceeds of criminality”.
She pointed out that the demographics most at risk of being asked to become money mules are those aged between 18 and 24 and those aged 55 years and older, although she points out that where there is vulnerability, there is a chance of an exploitation attempt.
“In general it is vulnerable people such as those who are new to the country, students, people who are unemployed, or people under financial pressure that are likely to be targeted.
“Also, those who purchase and use illegal drugs may be offered the chance to pay off their drug debt by becoming a money mule.”
Sgt Leetch explained that members of crime gangs will never reveal too much personal information about themselves in these cases, which makes it difficult for Gardaí to identify them.
This results in Gardaí questioning the bank account holder who allowed the stolen or illegal money to be transferred to their account.
Gardaí are urging anyone who believes they are being approached to become a money mule to refuse to provide bank information and to contact their local Garda station immediately.
Anyone who thinks their account has already been compromised should alert their bank and the Gardaí straight away.
“If an offer to make money sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no easy money to be made,” Sgt Leetch added.