Law enforcement, judicial and financial authorities from 31 countries, including Bulgaria, participated in the fifth annual crackdown on money mule schemes, carried out between September and November 2019, Europol said on December 4.
The European Money Mule Action (EMMA 5) resulted in the identification of 3833 money mules alongside 386 money mule recruiters, of which 228 were arrested, Europol said. 1025 criminal investigations were opened, many of them are still ongoing.
More than 650 banks, 17 bank associations and other financial institutions helped to report 7520 fraudulent money mule transactions, preventing a total loss of 12.9 million euro, the statement said.
In Bulgaria, 61 money mules and 44 victims of criminal activity were identified as part of the money mule action, as well as a total of 39 transactions worth more than one million euro and $300 000, according to a separate statement from the Association of Bulgarian Banks.
The association is a member of the European Banking Federation, which assisted law enforcement agencies in the money mule initiative, alongside Europol and Eurojust.
Money mules are used in money laundering activities, often unknowingly, to transfer illegally obtained money between bank accounts and/or countries. But even if money mules act unwittingly, they are committing a crime and may face lengthy imprisonments and acquire a criminal record, Europol said.
To raise awareness of this type of fraud, the money muling awareness campaign #DontbeaMule kicked off across Europe on December 4. Individuals who believe they may have been targeted should stop transferring money and notify their bank and national police immediately, Europol said. For more information on the campaign, visit the Europol website.
(Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. Photo: Europol)