Two Italian men remained in custody at separate Dublin garda stations last night where they were being questioned under anti-gangland legislation for their roles in a mob who are suspected of obtaining €3.5m from invoice redirection fraud.
The pair are suspected of using Irish bank accounts to launder over €150,000 of the money, which the gang have stolen from companies based in Spain, Belgium and the United States.
Officers from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) made the arrests early yesterday morning, with a 46-year-old Italian arrested at his Glasnevin home and a 27-year-old picked up at an Airbnb in the capital's south inner city.
The older suspect is understood to have been resident in Dublin for at least four years, while his suspected associate has only been here for a number of weeks.
"Gardai are essentially trying to establish what exact roles that these individuals have within what is a huge international criminal organisation," a senior source said.
"Are they merely money mules, or are they senior participants in the organisation? That is what is being investigated and a huge amount of documentation needs to be trawled through," the source added.
Invoice redirection fraud happens when a business falls prey to requests, usually by e-mail, purporting to emanate from trusted suppliers or service providers, into believing that a beneficiary's bank account details have been changed.
As a result, funds that are due to be paid out are transferred to a fraudulent account.
Sources say that there has been an increase in this type of crime across Europe since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Often the fraudsters use students' and young people's bank account details by offering them a fee to allow use of their accounts for a few days.
Money mules are usually held by unconnected third parties, who are approached by recruiters and asked to allow their accounts be used for a transaction in exchange for a fee of a few hundred euro.