Students used as ‘money mules’: AFP

Money laundering in Australia has been put into focus by the AFP, who are concerned about university students being recruited as mules.
Money laundering in Australia

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has launched a crackdown to address what it calls a “growing trend” of university students being recruited into organised crime.

The AFP said criminal gangs are paying students to act on their behalf as ‘money mules’ — transferring proceeds from illegal activities to bank accounts (money laundering).

An AFP campaign will be rolled out across 39 universities to warn students about the dangers of working as ‘money mules’.

Money laundering in Australia

Money laundering is the process of ‘cleaning’ money obtained through illicit activities so it seems like it came from a legitimate source. This can done by transferring funds to overseas banks or businesses, to hide the money’s illegal origins.

For example, last year the AFP uncovered “one of the biggest ever money laundering operations” within a currency exchange service.

The business allegedly used dozens of Australian retail premises to cover up illegal money laundering operations worth over $200 million.

Money mules

The AFP said it believes criminal networks are exploiting financially vulnerable students into illegal money laundering.

Last year, two 18-year-old international students were arrested in relation to an international money laundering scam worth more than $150 million.

Students who engage in money laundering for these groups risk severe penalties including life imprisonment.

The campaign

Signs will begin appearing in universities across the country to help students identify if they’re being recruited to launder money.

Similar messages will be distributed on social media.

AFP Detective Superintendent Tim Stainton said the campaign will directly target international students, with materials to be printed in several languages.

Stainton said that crime groups are “increasingly targeting” international students, due to a general lack of knowledge of Australian laws and their isolation from family support networks.

The AFP encourages any person who believes they’re being recruited as a money mule to report it to police, and not to engage with any messages or posts that may originate from criminal networks.

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