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fraud funds Two suspected teenage money mules latest to be arrested in €10m cash laundering probe

The male and female are Irish nationals who were arrested in the Longford town area this morning and are being questioned as part of Operation SKEIN.

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Two suspected teenage money mules are being questioned today as part of a major investigation into the laundering of over €10 million of invoice re-direct fraud funds through Irish bank accounts.

The male and female are Irish nationals who were arrested in the Longford town area this morning, and are being questioned in their local garda station as part of Operation SKEIN which has resulted in 19 arrests nationwide so far.

“The teenagers arrested today would not be considered major players in the wider criminal conspiracy but it is believed they allowed their bank accounts to be used,” a source told SundayWorld.com.

“In many ways they fit the typical profile of young people who get lured into acting as money mules,” the source added.

The long running investigation is being carried out by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

The GNECB have identified 90 suspects resident in Ireland and are satisfied that €10 million has been laundered through Irish bank accounts.

Invoice redirection fraud happens when a person or a business fall prey to requests, purporting to emanate from trusted suppliers or service providers, into believing 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 are 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 use of their accounts for a few days.

Operation SKEIN is focusing on an international criminal organisation who have been using Irish bank accounts to store money stolen from companies in “every EU country, Russia, Canada, China, African countries and the US” gardai say.

Today’s arrests follows five arrests yesterday when four Romanian nationals based in north Cork and Castlera, Co Roscommon were arrested as part of Operation BOXPLOT which feeds into the wider SKEIN investigation.

A Nigerian national was also arrested separately by fraud squad detectives.

Gardai said in a statement today that three of the five men arrested yesterday had been released without charge.

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Over 1,000 incidents of money mule transactions totaling in excess of €12 million have moved through bank accounts to date in 2020, according to figures from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland.

The vast majority of those incidents - 98% - have involved bank accounts belonging to those aged between 18 and 24 years of age.

Earlier this week, the Irish Independent revealed that up to one money mule a day on average is currently being arrested by fraud squad detectives investigating multiple different money laundering targets across the country.

The problem is so hugethat 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.

“It is an absolutely massive issue and many hundreds of suspects have been identified and there can be no doubt that there are many more out there who have not been discovered yet,” a senior source said.

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