More than 400 people have been arrested in a worldwide operation targeting money laundering that has prevented around €33.5 million in losses.
Law enforcement authorities from 26 countries, backed by Europol, Interpol, the European Banking Federation, Western Union and the FinTech FinCrime Exchange took part in the European Money Mule Action operation.
Between September and November, 4031 money mules were identified alongside 227 money mule recruiters, with 422 arrests. Over 1500 criminal investigations were initiated, with nearly 5000 fraudulent money mule transactions identified.
Europol says many money mules are tricked into participation by criminal gangs that lure victims in with the promise of quick money via email, social media and other channels.
Covid-19 has been a tool used by some gangs to reel in mules, says Europol, although payment process compromise and romance scams continue to be the most recurrent schemes.