EU Uncovers $36 Million in Week-Long Crackdown on ‘Money Mules’

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European law enforcement agencies uncovered $36 million in illicit money transfers and made 159 arrests in less than a week as they stepped up a crackdown on so-called money mules, Europol said on Tuesday.

Around 90 percent of 1,719 illegal transactions identified during the short campaign were linked to cyber crime, with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin playing an increasing role in money laundering schemes, Europol said.

The European Union’s law enforcement agency said the campaign, carried out from Nov. 20 to 24 in coordination with banks, had pinpointed more than 800 people participating in or organizing ‘money muling’, whereby often unwitting individuals are enlisted to help criminal organizations launder their proceeds. Only 159 arrests were made.

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