The Anti-Money Laundering Unit (MOKAS) on Wednesday issued a warning to the public over online fraud involving ‘money mules’ or ‘smurfs’ as the term is also known.
As part of the operation, ordinary people with ‘clean’ bank accounts are asked to deposit cash or cheques provided by an intermediary, into their accounts and then transfer the money to another account or send it through wire transfer.
The amounts are always less than the €10,000 set by law to be flagged under anti money laundering legislation, and are usually only in the hundreds of euros.
The scammers usually use job advertisements to lure in potential mules by preying on the unemployed. The ads might call for ‘payment processing agents’, ‘money transfer agents, or ‘local agents’ or other similar positions. Payment is usually on commission at 10 per cent.
MOKAS said most of the people lured in are not aware they have been sucked into a money-laundering operation in which the perpetrators can cover their tracks by using ordinary people.
According to MOKAS there has been an increase in such cases globally.
It urges the public to be especially careful when answering ads online that might have vague job descriptions such as ‘transferring remittances to a foreign country’ and other jargon.