For a sixth consecutive year banks and law enforcement authorities join forces into a mutual campaign against „money muling“
02 Decempber 2020
Financial institutions and law enforcement authorities from 26 countries become involved for a sixth consecutive year into a joint campaign, targeted against schemes for money laundering and recruitment of “money mules”. The global campaign has been organized by the European Cybercrime Centre with Europol /EC3 – EUROPOL/, while its partner is the European Banking Federation, of which the Association of Banks in Bulgaria is a member.
This year there are more than 4031 individuals identified as „money mules“ and 227 recruiters, as the actions, initiated by the law enforcement authorities have resulted in arresting 422 individuals, as per Europol data. Initiated investigations during the campaign number 1529. More than 500 banks and other financial institutions have aided the reporting of 4942 unlawful transactions, involving „money mules“, thus thwarting claims worth EUR 33.5 million.
During the campaign this year Bulgarian law enforcement authorities have identified 98 “money mules”, which is by 37 persons more than the previous-year campaign, as well as 72 victims of that criminal activity – being with 28 individuals more versus the previous year. In line with combating financial crimes during the current campaign and with the assistance of banks there are 100 unlawful transactions identified, as thwarted claims approximate EUR 14 million.
“Money mule” is an individual, who transfers illegally acquired funds between various bank accounts, often in different countries, while receiving a commission for this activity. According to the Europol statistics, in 95% of the cases “money mules” are being used for drawdown of illegally transferred funds, acquired through previous cybercrime activity. Frequently funds are intended for financing of other criminal activities and money laundering.
Various schemes are being used for recruitment of “money mules”, for example, dating sites, through which criminals try to persuade their victims to open bank accounts for sending or for receiving of funds. Also, posts in the social networks with enticing job offers, guaranteeing fast and easy enrichment, aim at attracting the attention of university students and youngsters. Criminals are becoming more and more inventive, as often they make use of actual events to render their offers more credible, for example, the present COVID-19 pandemic. Often they also use information about persons, targeted by them, obtained via the social networks.
It is important to know that even though the individuals, used as “money mules”, might not have been aware of their involvement in illegal activity for money laundering, they do commit a crime by transferring funds and this may entail serious consequences for them.
The banking sector in Bulgaria supports the efforts of law enforcement authorities and cooperates actively with them for preventing and disclosing of financial crimes, related to laundering of money, acquired through illegal activity. Banks have strict rules and requirements in place, through which they identify their clients, which also contributes to the large trust in them on the part of users of financial services.
#Don’t Be a Mule
The #Don’t Be a Mule information campaign, dedicated at raising the public awareness to this type of fraud, starts today at European level. The brochures, published on the ABB’s webpage contain more information about the ways of recruiting „money mules“, how to protect ourselves and what should we do if we have become suspicious that either we or our acquaintances have been involved in money laundering schemes.
Should you think that attempts are being made for using you as a “money mule”, you should act immediately before it is too late: do not transfer any funds; instead, inform ASAP your servicing bank and the police.