Gardai smash alleged crime gang laundering €1.5m acquired through cyber crime and prostitution

Five men have been arrested over allegedly laundering €1.5m acquired through cybercrime, organised prostitution and theft.
Gardai smash alleged crime gang laundering €1.5m acquired through cyber crime and prostitution
Gardai carried out nine searches at homes and suspected bogus businesses in north and west Dublin yesterday morning, including at eight garages which were ostensibly being used to fix and sell cars but which gardai believe were actually being used to launder money.   Photo: File photo
Gardai carried out nine searches at homes and suspected bogus businesses in north and west Dublin yesterday morning, including at eight garages which were ostensibly being used to fix and sell cars but which gardai believe were actually being used to launder money. Photo: File photo

Five men have been arrested over allegedly laundering €1.5m acquired through cybercrime, organised prostitution and theft.

Garda believe money was laundered through bogus companies set up by the criminal organisation and through multiple bank accounts set up in false names and by money mules - people who allow their bank accounts to be used to launder money.

Cyber-enabled frauds like 'smishing' - using text messages claiming to be a reputable organisation like a bank to defraud - and ‘vishing' - calling potential victims over internet telephone services to defraud - were allegedly used to acquire the illegal money, along with organised prostitution and thefts, gardai say.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) led the investigation into the crime gang, assisted by Romanian speaking Gardaí and Gardaí seconded to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).

They carried out nine searches at homes and suspected bogus businesses in north and west Dublin yesterday morning, including at eight garages which were ostensibly being used to fix and sell cars but which gardai believe were actually being used to launder money.

Five Romanian nationals, aged in their late 20s and early 30s, were arrested with the help of Romanian speaking officers.

More than €30,000 in cash was seized along with documentation regarding fraud and bogus companies, more than 70 bank accounts in false names, false identifications and phones.

One person had accounts registered in 18 different names, RTE reported.

Bottles of champagne, expensive whiskey and vodka were also seized in the raids.

Two of the suspects were arrested under anti-gang legislation which means that they can be held for questioning for up to seven days.

Four men in their late 20s and early 30s were arrested for criminal activity, money laundering and obstruction.

The GNECB made the fifth arrest - a Romanian national in his mid-30s - in North Dublin after a further search which uncovered approximately €30,000 in cash and more documentation regarding fraud.

He has been detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

Gardaí have also identified at least 14 people suspected of involvement in making fraudulent Covid-19 payment claims of up to €50,000 and have frozen another €40,000, it emerged.

Gardaí said evidence of widespread fraud around the €350 per week Covid-19 payment is now emerging during the course of unrelated investigations.

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