Europol raids money mules who laundered $10M for crypto scammers

Authorities from Italy, Portugal, and Europol have carried out raids against two money mule recruiting networks allegedly working for crypto scammers police said lacked the expertise to launder over €10 million ($10.8 million).

Between May 21 and 27, Police raided properties across France, Italy, and Romania, detaining 11 suspects and the alleged mastermind behind the money laundering scheme. Fifteen house searches also seized crypto, jewelry, and electronic devices.

The money mule networks worked for an organized crime group that makes its crypto through ‘rip-deal’ scams. These operations see scammers targeting millionaires interested in property by pretending to be part of an international investment fund.

Europol said, “The criminals contacted the victims, scheduled an appointment at luxury restaurants or hotels, and instructed them to download applications to manage cryptocurrencies. As soon as the victims installed the app, the criminals used sophisticated technical tools to take control of the crypto wallets.” 

Read more: Another Chinese money laundering scheme tied to Deltec and Tether

Police discovered the mule networks after tracking the scammers’ crypto. Criminals pay money mules a commission to receive their funds and transfer them to an account controlled by another third party.

Europol claims the main perpetrators of the rip-deal crypto scams ‘lacked the technical expertise’ to launder their profits, which exceeded €10 million ($10.8 million), and reached out to the money mule networks for help. 

Money mules have become enough of a problem that Europol has rolled out its own #DontBeaMule campaign to help raise awareness about their use.

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