European Money Mule Action Leads To 1,803 Arrests
International anti-money mule operation leads to 1,803 arrests & the identification of 18,000 money mules Money mules are a type of money laundering where a person transfers illicit funds through a medium (such as a bank account) to obfuscate where the money came from. There are different types of money mules including witting, unwitting, and complicit.. The action was coordinated by Europol The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known under the name Europol, formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drugs Unit, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organized crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU member states. The Agency has no executive powers, and its officials are not entitled to arrest suspects or act without prior approval from authorities in the member states. Based in The Hague, it comprised 1,065 staff as of 2016.
WEBSITE LINK in cooperation with 27 countries across the globe, Eurojust, INTERPOL, the European Banking Federation, and the FinTech FinCrime Exchange.
Results From This Operation:
- 18,351 money mules identified
- 324 recruiters identified
- 1,803 arrested individuals
- 2,503 investigations initiated
- 7,000 fraudulent transactions reported
- €67.5 million prevented losses.
This was the 7th iteration of the European Money Mule Action, which is the largest international operation of its kind. It’s built around the idea that public-private information sharing is key to fighting complex modern crimes.
Investigation reveals money mules were laundering profits from online fraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements.
A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. schemes such as business email compromise and Forex scams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost..
Today saw the conclusion of the anti-money mule operation EMMA 7, an international action coordinated by Europol in cooperation with 27 countries, Eurojust, INTERPOL, the European Banking Federation (EBF), and the FinTech FinCrime Exchange. The operation resulted in 1,803 arrests and the identification of over 18 000 money mules. It also revealed that money mules were being used to launder money for a wide array of online scams such as sim-swapping, man-in-the-middle Man-in-the-middle attack: When a fraudster secretly intercepts and possibly alters messages between two parties who believe they are securely communicating with each other. attacks, e-commerce fraud, and phishing.
Over roughly two and a half months of operations, EMMA 7 saw law enforcement, financial institutions, and the private sector, including Western Union, Microsoft, and Fourthline, cooperate in a concerted effort against money laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions. in Europe, Asia, North America, Colombia, and Australia. As well as targeting the laundering of profits through money muling networks, investigators also sought intelligence on the sources of these illicit Illicit means something that is not legally permitted or authorized under the law; unlicensed; unlawful. It can also mean disapproved of or not permitted for moral or ethical reasons. profits, shedding more light on the size and nature of the criminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. economies that money mules serve.
Europol Mule A money mule sometimes called a "smurfer," is a person who transfers money acquired illegally (e.g., stolen) in person, through a courier service, or electronically, on behalf of others (usually criminals that they are knowingly or unknowingly affiliated). Typically, the mule is paid for services with a small part of the money transferred - but not always. Mules may or may not be aware that they are performing these actions. Money mules are often dupes recruited online for what they think is legitimate employment, not aware that the money they are transferring is the product of crime. The money is transferred from the mule's account to the scam operator, typically in another country. Similar techniques are used to transfer illegal merchandise. Mules can be prosecuted for numerous crimes. Arrests
Collaborating In The Fight On Money Laundering
This was the seventh iteration of the European Money Mule Action, or ‘EMMA’, which was established in 2016 on the initiative of Europol, Eurojust, and the European Banking Federation. It is the largest international operation of its kind, built around the idea that public-private information sharing is key to fighting complex modern crimes. Around 400 banks and financial institutions supported the action, reporting 7000 fraudulent transactions and preventing a total loss estimated at nearly €70 million.
EMMA 7 works based on private sector actors reporting incidences of suspicious or possibly illegal financial conduct to national law enforcement authorities. Similarly, law enforcement can ask financial actors to look into their own intelligence on potential money mules. With these inputs, law enforcement can paint a picture of laundering networks and then decide in each case how to react to the possible money muling activity.
EMMA provides a means for all these actors to confer, sharing intelligence that will help identify possible money mules and potentially lead to arrests. Europol supports each stage of the preparation by connecting the law enforcement partners and private sector partners and facilitating information exchange between them. In the operational phase, Europol provided analytical support that connected the transnational cases with the money muling networks behind them.
Most of the investigations under EMMA 7 focused on the international dimension of muling. Money muling operations see mules not only transferring money between countries but also traveling between countries themselves in order to set up bank accounts overseas. Criminals can then use these accounts later on in support of the money laundering process.
Awareness Is As Important As Action
The complexity of money muling operations, and law enforcement’s response to them, reflect how muling networks are created. Unlike many financial crimes, money mules can be recruited unknowingly into the criminal operation. The organized crime groups do this by preying on groups such as students, immigrants, and those in economic distress, offering easy money through legitimate-looking job adverts and social media posts.
Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to the law and money muling; they are breaking the law by laundering the illicit proceeds of crime. For this reason, Europol coordinated the ‘#DontBeAMule’ awareness campaign with all participant countries, law enforcement, and the EBF on behalf of the European banks, as a means to prevent more innocent bystanders from being exploited by criminals and putting themselves at risk.
Eurojust participated in the operation via its dedicated liaison officer and stands ready to support cross-border investigations and judicial cooperation at the request of the national authorities involved.
EMMA is under the EMPACT Sub Priority Cybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks. NCPF (Non-Cash means of Payment Fraud Payment Fraud (Non-Plastic)
The fraud definitions for payment fraud are confusing unless you specify “non-plastic”. Payment Fraud (non-plastic) refers to payments made outside of card networks, via payments rails that send funds from one bank account to another. When making this type of payment, fraud occurs when a payments is sent to an account that the fraudster controls. Payment fraud can be unauthorized, which is commonly executed as an account takeover. Payment fraud can also be authorized, which is commonly executed through authorized push payment fraud (scams).), and is led by the Netherlands.
Participating countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hong Kong-China, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.