In a joint European police action against money launderers 178 suspects were arrested in a series of countries. In the Netherlands, 28 money mules were detected. They had their accounts available for the laundering of €23 million in dirty money.
Between 14 and 18 November, 2016 several enforcement agencies and judicial authorities from the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and Ukraine carried out a joint operation on European level, aimed at addressing the problem of “money mules”. The first action was in February of this year.
The Dutch Electronic Crimes Task Force, led the action, supported by Europol and Eurojust. The action was supported by 106 banks and other private parties.
In total over 580 mules have been identified and more than 1,350 victims have been registered in over 350 different investigations. More than 95% of the transactions these money mules made can be linked to cyber crime. Six different units participated in the Netherlands; Limburg, central Netherlands, North Holland, northern Netherlands, Rotterdam and Zeeland West Brabant. The age of the mules is very diverse and is between 17 and 59 years.
Money mules are usually recruited by criminal organizations that use them for receiving and transferring illegally obtained funds (including phishing) to bank accounts and / or countries. By using these money mules criminal organizations have access to stolen goods or money without having the identity of their members known. Around 80% of these individuals performed their duties voluntarily. Money mules also play a role in enabling other crimes. Because the accounts of these people are available to criminals these criminals can use the stolen money to finance organized crime.