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Global money-laundering operation stops $2.6 million passing through Australia’s financial institutions 

Following a worldwide operation involving law enforcement agencies from 27 countries, 18 Australians are facing criminal charges relating to money laundering offenses.

Author June 8th, 2022

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Following a worldwide operation involving law enforcement agencies from 27 countries, 18 Australians are facing criminal charges relating to money laundering offenses. It’s also estimated that the operation has stopped $2.6 million of laundered money being “washed” through Australia’s financial institutions.  

During the course of the operation, the Australian Federal Police identified 27 individuals who they believed were being used to transfer money that had been acquired through criminal activity. Of these 27 individuals, two were allegedly the heads of money-laundering organizations.

As a result of the operation, 18 Australians were charged. The final nine were given warning letters and were told to cease activities. Australian police, financial analysts, and cybercrime experts were part of the worldwide operation that included agencies from 27 countries. The operation ran from mid-September to the end of November and 1,800 people were arrested globally.

The European Union's law enforcement agency said nearly 7,000 fraudulent financial transactions were uncovered during the 2021 sting. In total, the agency believes that the joint operation prevented losses totaling 67.5 million euros.

Job scams and fraudulent romances used to mislead targets

Speaking after the conclusion of the operation, Australian Federal Police cybercrime commander Ben Case said criminals used a range of tactics to convince people to launder money. This included job scams and fraudulent romances.

He said that “International students are a common target of money mule networks. However, this is a warning to everyone: if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.”

He then went on to add “if you're being promised a paycheck for simply moving money between accounts, converting money to cryptocurrency and moving it to another wallet, or an online romantic partner is asking you to transfer funds on their behalf, then it is more than likely a scam.”

Money mules also a target for police

Echoing his thoughts, Victoria Police cybercrime detective Jane Welsh said organized criminals sought people with legitimate Australian bank accounts to move money from a compromised account out of the country.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that people transferring these funds are money mules, and these scams are a cover for criminals’ money-laundering efforts”, she said.

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