The operation resulted in the arrest of 1,803 people. In addition, 18,351 so-called “money mules” have been identified. According to Europol, money mules have been found to be used in money laundering for many forms of online fraud, such as phishing.
Four hundred banks and financial institutions lent their support to the international process. “They reported 7,000 fraudulent transactions and avoided a total loss of around 70 million euros,” Europol said.
Europol explains that money mules can be recruited without knowing the criminal enterprise. Organized crime groups do this by attacking groups such as students, immigrants, and those with economic needs. “They make easy money through legitimate-looking job ads and social media posts.”
According to Europol, ignorance is no excuse. “They break the law by laundering the illegal profits from crime.” To raise awareness, the police organization has also launched a campaign (#DontBeAMule) with all participating countries to prevent innocent people from being used by criminals.
The operation, called EMMA 7, lasted from September 15 to November 30. In it, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and the private sector collaborated with companies such as Western Union, Microsoft and Fourth Line. The operation targeted money laundering in Europe, Asia, North America, Colombia and Australia. In addition, investigators also searched for sources of illegal earnings.
27 countries participated in the operation. In addition to Belgium, there are Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hong Kong / China, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.