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Miriam's money mules warning as €12m washed through young people's bank accounts by crims

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Miriam O’Callaghan has urged parents to talk to children about scam

Miriam O’Callaghan has urged parents to talk to children about scam

Miriam O’Callaghan has urged parents to talk to children about scam

Broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan has warned young people not to get sucked into being used as money mules by criminals.

New research shows young people are being used as mules by criminals to help launder stolen or illegal money using their bank account.

The young people are often dragged into these illegal operations unwittingly, according to the banks.

The research shows that there have been 1,000 incidents of money mule transactions this year so far - the vast majority involving those between the ages of 18 and 24.

These transactions had a total value of more than €12m, the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) said.

Vulnerable

RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) members and social media influencers Miriam Mullins and Darragh Taheny, have been drafted in by the banking lobby group to support a campaign to warn people of the dangers.

The 'Don't be a mule' campaign is also advising parents and children on the warning signs and red flags to watch for to avoid the activity.

Money muling involves criminals recruiting young people to help launder stolen or illegal money using their bank account .

The week-long FraudSmart campaign comes in advance of Europol's annual global money mule campaign involving up to 30 countries and over 600 banks. It involves cracking down on money mule schemes both operationally and via a large-scale awareness drive.

Research conducted for the BPFI shows younger people are highly susceptible to being used as money mules.

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Young teen withdrawing cash

Young teen withdrawing cash

Young teen withdrawing cash

Carried out by Coyne Research, the study found that a third of 18 to 24-year-olds are likely to lodge or transfer money on behalf of someone else using their own bank account in exchange for keeping some of the money.

Over a quarter of 18 to 24- year-olds claim to know someone who was approached to act as a money mule.

Large numbers were not even aware of the term money mule.

Small numbers of parents of teenagers surveyed said they had discussed the issue of money mules and the risks with their teen children.

Acting as a money mule means participating in money laundering which is a criminal offence and is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

Broadcaster and parent Miriam O'Callaghan said: "This is such a worrying trend among young people.

"As a mum with teenagers, I was only delighted to lend my voice to this campaign to try and highlight the importance of sitting down with our children and educating them about the dangers of money muling."

She said anyone's child could become a vulnerable victim of money muling, so it's important to have these conversations with them, so they know the dangers of getting involved in this type of criminal offence.

BPFI's Olivia Buckley said criminals are relentless in their pursuit of money mules as they seek to move stolen money.

She said they often present themselves online as prospective employers who can help young people make money through the use of their bank account.

"We're encouraging parents and children to have this important conversation and to be on heightened alert, especially as young people make their way back to college," she said.

USI President, Lorna Fitzpatrick said: "In partnership with FraudSmart, the USI urges students and young people to be extra vigilant when dealing with people who may be criminals posing as potential employers seeking to launder illegal or stolen money in their bank accounts."

She said that money muling might initially appear to be desirable as an easy fix for money worries to those who are struggling financially.

"However, there are serious repercussions for the crime of money laundering.

Activity

"We want to ensure students are informed of the penalties to prevent students from finding themselves in a troublesome situation.

"If anyone is concerned with falling victim to a scam or money mulling, they should contact the gardaí immediately."

This year's Fraud Awareness Week campaign, which runs this week, includes a range of activity outreaching to young people and their parents.

A host of material including information leaflets for young people and parents can be found at fraudsmart.ie.

The week will also see the rollout of a radio and social media campaign in addition to support by FraudSmart members banks and institutions through a range of channels online and in branch.