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For the eighth consecutive year, the Slovenian police have successfully participated in Europol's international operation aimed at combating money mules who illegally receive funds that are mainly generated by cybercrime.

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This year's operation, the European Money Mule Action (EMMA 8), was carried out from 15 September to 30 November 2022.

Alongside Slovenia, law enforcement from 25 countries took part in the operation, including the United States, Australia, Colombia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland. In Slovenia, the Association of Banks of Slovenia joined the public awareness initiative, in addition to its regular cooperation during the year.

Increased number of money mule transactions linked to cybercrime also in Slovenia

In recent years, the Slovenian police have dealt with an increasing number of online scams involving money mules.

Money mules are persons who receive money in their bank accounts that comes from criminal activities, mainly cybercrime such as hacking into IT systems and various forms of online fraud (CEO fraud, BEC (Business Email Compromise) fraud, Nigerian fraud, love fraud, investment in fake online platforms, etc.).

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8,755 money mules identified and 2,469 individuals arrested in the operation

According to Europol, a total of 8,755 money mules were identified and 2,469 individuals were arrested in the operation. In cooperation with the European Banking Federation (EBF), 4,089 fraudulent transactions were identified, successfully preventing EUR 17.5 million from being laundered by money mules.

Slovenian police investigated 206 cases and identified 266 money mules

The Slovenian police investigated 206 cases of fraud, attack on information systems and money laundering in which money mules were identified. Some criminal investigations had already been initiated before the start of the joint Europol operation, but increased police activity, mainly in the context of international police cooperation, was carried out during the operation.

Slovenian police investigations identified 266 money mules (in Slovenia and abroad) who received criminal proceeds in their bank accounts in a total amount of more than EUR 7.2 million. In cooperation with the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Money Laundering Prevention, Slovenian banks and foreign law enforcement, the police managed to prevent the loss of just over EUR 1.8 million to Slovenian and foreign natural and legal persons.

During the investigations, the Slovenian police conducted 47 interviews with suspects and 12 house searches, arrested 9 perpetrators, and issued 46 requests for international legal assistance and 21 European Investigation Orders.

Most money mules operate abroad and receive funds to the detriment of Slovenian citizens.

Most of the cases involve money mules abroad who have received funds in their bank accounts that come from crimes linked to online scams targeting Slovenian natural and legal persons.

The success of such investigations depends to a large extent on the time elapsed between the transaction and the victim's perception that a crime has been committed and their reporting it to the police. It also depends on national legislation and good international police cooperation, which is strengthened by joint operations of this kind.

In some cases, Slovenian citizens were money mules as well

Cases of Slovenian citizens being money mules have also been investigated. It is important to know that citizens can quickly become money mules themselves if they are not careful. For example, if you provide your bank account number to an unknown person on the internet and that person then transfers criminal proceeds to your account, you may become a money mule.

To avoid becoming a money mule yourself, here are some tips from the police

It is important to be aware that you may commit the offence of money laundering if you receive funds in your bank account which you know, or should or could know, have been illegally obtained, and then, at the personÔÇÖs request, transfer the funds to another bank account, withdraw them or use them in an economic activity, thus disguising the origin of the funds and preventing the recovery of the stolen funds by the victim.

We advise caution:

  • with job offers promising easy money, where all communication and activities are conducted online;
  • with job offers where the adverts are incomplete, full of grammatical and spelling mistakes;
  • with job offers that seem too good to be true, as they usually are;
  • when you are asked to provide your details, open a bank account or send your bank card abroad.

It is important that you do not accept money into your bank account from persons or business entities with whom you have no business or other relationship.

Inform the police

Inform the police if you have realised that you are a money mule. If you think somebody you know is a money mule, warn them immediately of the consequences of their actions and try to influence them to stop the activity and to report the matter to the police straight away.

 

"Ignorance is no excuse!" is a warning by Europol, which has prepared additional information and warning about money muling: #DontBeaMule

More information in Europol's press release: 2 469 money mules arrested in worldwide crackdown against money laundering