Romanians, among the money mules laundering EUR 2.5 M worldwide

Over 130 money mules – Romanians, Bulgarians and Moldovans – suspected of over 200 fraudulent transactions worth about EUR 2.42 M, have been tracked down following the “European Money Mule Action” (EMMA) international operation also attended by the Romanian Police and the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).

At the end of February, Romanian organized crime prosecutors and Moldovan investigators along with legal authorities in Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, UK, Spain and Portugal attended the first European operation aimed at dismantling a money laundering group which operated through the so-called ‘money mules’.

During the week, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), together with Eurojust and EBF, provided operational and analytical support to the involved partners. As a result of the operation, nearly 700 money mules were identified across Europe and 81 individuals were arrested after 198 suspects were interviewed by law enforcement agencies.  With the support of over 70 banks, significant financial losses were discovered and prevented, and over 900 victims of this crime were identified. More than 90% of the reported money mule transactions were linked to cybercrime, Europol informs.

Investigators conducted 17 home searches, 85 people were heard, while 205 victims were identified in Europe, Australia and USA.

Money mules are people recruited by organized crime groups to receive and give illegally money through bank operations. The recruited people may participate voluntarily in the illegal activity, but there are situations when some of the participants are not aware that their actions favour a wide spectrum of criminal activities. The transactions are operated from the bank accounts of some people from various European countries through these agents so that the real beneficiaries of the money to remain hidden.

The operation, backed by Eurojust, Europol and the European Banking Federation, was held within the project EMPACT-OAP — “Payment card fraud,” with Romania holding the leading position. The “European Money Mule Action” (EMMA) is a pilot operational project, created to combat online fraud, and electronic payment fraud.

banl operationsBelgiumbulgarianDenmarkDIICOTDirectorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorismeuropean money mule actionfraudulent transactionsGreeceMoldovansmoney launderingmoney mulesNetherlandsPortugalromanian policeRomanianssearchesSpainUK
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