Gardaí are urging young people not to allow their bank accounts to be used by others after a youth in West Cork was arrested for enabling money to be laundered through his account.
The youth, aged in his early 20s, is suspected of allowing a “large quantity of cash” to be lodged into his account and transferred on.
Detectives are now preparing a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the youth faces a prosecution and possible conviction.
Gardaí said that people who transfer money illegally on behalf of other people are operating as “money mules”.
A Garda statement said: “The practice usually involves criminals recruiting young people to help launder stolen or illegal money using their bank account – often unwittingly.
“The chance to earn a 'quick buck' is a tactic used by fraudsters to recruit money mules, who are promised a share of the proceeds in exchange for their bank account details.”
It said the person may not even be aware of the crime, but added: “They are complicit if they recklessly allow their account to be used to launder the proceeds of these crimes.”
It said gangs can launder thousands of euro through the person’s account in exchange “for a few hundred euro”.
The statement said anti-money laundering legislation was designed to prevent organised crime gang members from opening up accounts and, as a result, they need money mules to launder their money.
It said: “Students are an easy target for these money herders. They are often approached online, on campus, or while out socialising.”
Garda advice is:
*Do not allow anyone to use your bank account;
*Do not share personal bank account data;
*Do not send or receive money.
The statement warned: “If you agree to allow your account be used in this way you are committing the offence of money laundering. Money laundering is a serious offence which on convictions carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.
"This will have a serious impact on your future travel plans, career opportunities, vetting and credit ratings.”