Teen money mule 'right to be in fear' of international criminal gang, says judge

Teen money mule 'right to be in fear' of international criminal gang, says judge

The hackers diverted a business online payment of $25,000 being paid by a South Korean company to an Indian firm to an account in an AIB branch in Ennis in Joe Murphy’s name.

A judge has stated that an Ennis teenager used as a ‘money mule’ in an international money laundering scam "is absolutely right to be in fear” of the hackers behind the scam.

Judge Sandra Murphy made her comment at Ennis District Court after hearing that Joe Murphy, aged 19, of College Green, Ennis was “sucked into” a scam that defrauded a South Korean logistics company of $25,000.

The hackers in the case diverted a business online payment of $25,000 being paid by the South Korean company to an Indian firm to an account in an AIB branch in Ennis in Mr Murphy’s name.

Solicitor for Mr Murphy, John Casey told Judge Murphy that Mr Murphy was in fear of the people behind the scam “and to this day in his fear of these people”.

In response, Judge Murphy stated: “He is absolutely right to be in fear of these people because they have a lot of information about him.”

 Mr Casey stated that as a result of what occurred, Mr Murphy shut down his bank account and his present employer facilitates him by paying him in cash.

Recruited via Snapchat

Mr Casey said that Mr Murphy was told he would receive “a couple of hundred euro” from the scam but didn’t receive a cent.

Mr Murphy answered an advert on Snapchat where he would be paid for the use of his AIB account in Ennis along with access to his ATM card and his online bank information.

Det Garda Damien O’Connor told the court that there are ‘recruiters’ out there recruiting ‘money mules’ through the likes of Snapchat.

Det O’Connor told the court: “That element of the investigation is still very much investigation and there are arrests imminent in relation to that."

'Small cog in the machine'

Det O’Connor said that Mr Murphy’s family has been “absolutely devastated” over what has occurred.

Det O’Connor stated that Mr Murphy was a “very small cog in the machine but a vital cog because they need a clean bank account to launder the money”.

The detective stated that there is no evidence that Mr Murphy had any other role in the scam apart from allowing his bank account to be used.

Det O’Connor stated that he was initially contacted by the South Korean embassy in Dublin concerning the fraud and that the money was withdrawn from Mr Murphy’s account within four days.

In the case, Mr Murphy pleaded guilty to being reckless as to whether €23,022 ($25,000) transferred to his AIB account at Bank Place, Ennis was the proceeds of crime contrary to Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 2010.

'Terrified'

Mr Casey said that at one stage when the money was in his account, Mr Murphy phoned AIB to tell them about the crime but got afraid and hung up.

Mr Casey stated that Mr Murphy was “terrified” at the time.

Mr Casey stated that Mr Murphy fears he will never get a loan and never get a mortgage because of the offence.

Mr Casey stated that Mr Murphy had “mucked up badly and big time”.

However, Mr Casey asked Judge Murphy to give his client a future in how she would deal with the case.

Judge Murphy stated that she would adjourn the case for six months and see how Mr Murphy behaves until then.

The judge stated that if Mr Murphy stays out of trouble, she would take a certain course. In reply, Mr Casey said: “Thank you judge.”

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