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Don’t be a mule!

A money mule is someone recruited by criminals to receive money into their bank account in order to transfer stolen or fraudulent money to another account or withdraw the money and wire it overseas. This is often done in return for money or an expensive gift. There has been an increase in the numbers of money mule accounts identified in recent years, likely reflecting increased levels of activity in text message scams and investment fraud, as criminals seek ways to launder their profits.

Who becomes a money mule?

While people of any age are susceptible to becoming a money mule, the majority are aged between 18 and 24 years of age with some known cases as young as 14 and 15. Criminals frequently target young adults through social media ads and messages or seemingly legitimate job adverts, but they are also known to approach young people in-person outside schools, colleges, or sports clubs. Men are more likely to be targeted than women.Young people might be coerced, conned, or tempted into working with the fraudsters especially if they feel under financial pressure due to college, accommodation and other costs and tempted by offers to earn ‘quick and easy money’. 

Warning sign with mule

What happens to the money?

The money transferred by money mules are proceeds of crime, often stolen from innocent victims of text message scams and other types of fraud. The money being laundered is often used by criminals to facilitate other serious crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling. This is why the consequences faced for money muling are so serious and can result in a criminal record.

What are the consequence of money muling?

Getting caught up in money muling can have a serious long-term impact on your future. Even if money mules are not involved in the crimes which generate the money (cybercrime, text scams and email scams, payment and on-line fraud, etc.), they are acting illegally by laundering the proceeds of crime, helping criminal syndicates move funds easily around the world and remain anonymous and to fund crimes such drugs and human trafficking. If you are caught acting as a money mule, even if done so unwittingly, you can face a prison sentence, fine or community, and the prospect of a criminal record. In addition, you will have their bank account closed, have difficulty getting loans and mobile phone contracts and will be restricted when it comes to travelling, including to Australia or on a J1.

If you have been approached to act as a money mule or have been a victim of this type of crime, report it to your local Garda station and contact your bank.

Top things to look out for to avoid falling victim to money mule recruiters:

  1. Be very cautious of unsolicited emails or approaches promising opportunities to make easy money, particularly on social media.
  2. Thoroughly research any work from home opportunities and do not get involved unless you are sure the business is legitimate.
  3. Be particularly cautious of offers from people or companies overseas seeking ‘local/national representatives’ or ‘agents’ to act on their behalf as it is difficult to verify their legitimacy.
  4. Do not accept any job offers that ask you to use your own bank account to transfer money.
  5. Never give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them.
  6. Never allow your bank account to be used by someone else.
  7. Never agree to open a new bank account in your own name in order to receive payments on behalf of the criminal.


Parents, carers and educators

It is important for parents, carers and educators to help young people understand the dangers and consequences of money muling, help build their financial resilience and help protect them against fraudsters and scammers operating online. For teenagers, the best age to start these conversations is 11-16. If you are concerned your child is being exploited by criminals contact your local Garda station.

More information available on money muling at the Garda Síochána website here.