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Money Laundering Man arrested in fraud investigation is suspected 'professional' money mule recruiter

The suspect, who is aged in his late 20s, is still being questioned today at Lucan garda station and sources said he “had been on the run” for a considerable amount of time abroad

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(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

A man arrested as part of a long-running investigation into an international invoice redirection fraud is suspected of being a “professional” money mule recruiter.

The suspect, who is aged in his late 20s, is still being questioned today at Lucan garda station and sources said he “had been on the run” for a considerable amount of time abroad.

The investigation is being carried out by gardaí at the Money Laundering Investigation Unit (MILU) of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

“The invoice redirect fraud that is at the centre of this case happened over three years ago and the arrested man is suspected of recruiting money mules who allowed their bank accounts to be used to store the proceeds of this crime,” a senior source said.

“Like the way many drug addicts become drug dealers to supply their associates, in this fraud world, many money mules also become recruiters by suggesting to their friends they get involved for financial gain.

“However in the instance of the suspect who was arrested in west Dublin yesterday, it is suspected that he had a more professional role in terms of recruiting other individuals in this criminal enterprise.

"It is believed he had a higher role in the food chain.”

Gardaí announced details of the arrest operation this morning, outlining that the suspect can be detained for a week from the time of his arrest under organised crime legislation.

“Gardaí suspect the male is involved in the recruitment of money mules. He was arrested for an offence contrary to Section 73 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006,” a spokesman said.

“He is currently being detained under the provisions of Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007, at Lucan garda station. He can be held for up to seven days,” he added.

Arrests of money mules by the GNECB are happening on an almost daily basis and in recent weeks a number of suspected recruiters have also been arrested with more cases coming before the courts in recent months.

This included a suspected recruiter aged in his 20s who was arrested in the Blanchardstown area earlier this month and a 26-year-old money mule recruiter arrested in Tallaght late last month.

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Last week, a judge warned he is going to start jailing young people who engage in money laundering for criminal gangs, as cases continue to come before the courts.

Judge Martin Nolan made the comments in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court as he handed down a suspended two-year sentence for a 20-year-old Tallaght man who laundered more than €58,000 in cash stolen from a car parts company.

The company became aware in November 2018 that it had become a hacking victim, in which an email between the company and a supplier had been intercepted.

As a result of the hacking, the company transferred €58,401 in funds to what it thought was one of its suppliers, but which was actually the defendant’s bank account.

“Imprisonment is coming very close for other parties who come before this court for money laundering,” the judge said.

Invoice redirection fraud happens when a person or a business falls prey to requests, purporting to emanate from trusted suppliers or service providers, claiming that a beneficiary’s bank account details have been changed.

As a result, funds that are due to be paid out are transferred to a fraudulent account known as a money mule account.

Money mule accounts are usually held by unconnected third parties, who have been approached by recruiters and asked to allow their accounts be used for a transaction in exchange for a fee of a few hundred euro.

Often the fraudsters use students' and young people's bank account details by offering them a fee to allow the use of their accounts for a few days.

The problem is so big that officers from the GNECB plan to make 700 arrests in the coming months of people who have allowed their bank accounts to be used by criminal organisations as well as those who recruit them, often via social media.

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