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Fresh warning Young people targeted as money mule transactions worth €5m identified in first half of last year

Money mules are typically recruited though social media in what appears to be a friendly approach by a criminal offering "easy" money

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Banking and Payments Federation Chief Executive Brian Hayes

Banking and Payments Federation Chief Executive Brian Hayes

Banking and Payments Federation Chief Executive Brian Hayes

More than 700 money mule transactions totalling more than €5m have been identified in the first half of last year.

It has prompted a fresh warning about the dangers of such transactions, which are directed particularly at young people.

Most of the transactions involved those aged between 18 and 24, according to the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland's (BPFI) FraudSmart division.

FraudSmart appealed to young people and their parents to be aware of the dangers and potential consequences of getting involved in the practice.

BPFI chief executive Brian Hayes said criminals are deliberately targeting teens and young adults when recruiting money mules.

It is critical that this age group, as well as their parents, fully understand how these crimes operate and how they can avoid getting caught up in it, he said.

Money mules are typically recruited though social media in what appears to be a friendly approach by a criminal offering "easy" money.

This is in return for opening a new bank account on behalf of the criminal or using their account to lodge or transfer money.

However, money muling is effectively money laundering and a criminal offence, Mr Hayes said.

Meanwhile, consumers have been advised to adopt a zero-trust principle when it comes to online activity.

A leading international cyber psychologist in the fight against fraud said people must always verify information sent to them.

Cyber crime expert Dr Mary Aiken was commenting after Bank of Ireland research revealed more than 68pc of those surveyed are worried about being targeted by online fraudsters.

Bank of Ireland said the research reveals fraudsters are contributing to the stress of the nation due to fears people will be scammed.

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Cyber crime expert Professor Mary Aiken

Cyber crime expert Professor Mary Aiken

Cyber crime expert Professor Mary Aiken

 

There has been an increase in people receiving fraudulent emails, texts or phone calls.

The percentage getting these dodgy messages has risen from 55pc last year to 61pc.

"We need to adopt the 'zero-rust' principle. That is, never trust, always verify when it comes to online activity and protecting personal and financial information," Dr Aiken said.

She said our behaviour can make us more vulnerable to online fraud.

What she called "online disinhibition" can play a major role in fraud.

This means people sometimes do things online they would not do in real life, like revealing personal inform-ation.

The Covid crisis also means people are psychologically vulnerable.

An Garda Síochána reported a 50pc increase in online crime last year.

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