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Senior officers of Garda have indicated the rapidly rising problem of money laundering as the biggest policing challenge in the coming years with the upsurge in online frauds.
The problem of money laundering is much worse than the latest trends suggest as its level has significantly increased in the last two years since multiple crimes have migrated online. It is considered to remain the biggest policing challenge in the upcoming years as per the sources of senior Garda officers.
Moreover, gardai probing drug gangs are now charging them against money laundering rather than exclusively on drug charges. “The funds we found, whether in cash or in bank accounts” is just as useful as drugs in dragging these people in courts,” said a source of Garda.
According to Irish Times, around 701 money laundering crimes have been reported in the State in the recent year, up from just 86 crimes in 2018. More stats were rolled out as 246 cases were increased in 2019, more than doubled to 591 in 2020.
Garda sources further stated that the number of money-laundering cases recorded in the last year and 2020 is expected to be revised giving a rise in them as doubtful transactions reported to Revenue were affirmed as being fraudulent. Almost 38,300 transactions were registered the previous year, increasing from 28,865 in 2020, and 25,411 in 2019. Frauds have increasingly notably at a rate of 120 per cent since last year.
The triggering factor of this uprise in the money laundering crimes is the online frauds and scams which caught the attention of the Garda sources. People were bombarded with fake texts and emails at the same time generally sent from bank sources as a tactic used for executing these digital crimes.
“People have been scammed by online crimes during the pandemic and yet are falling prey to this attack. Generally, the common factor between these illicit acts is that it requires bank accounts to receive the money. The accounts are further split to process smaller transactions before they’re withdrawn. All of these are part of money laundering” said one Garda source.
The Garda is running a public awareness campaign to combat this issue, while recruiters working for the money laundering gangs are still gaining access for deploying a large number of bank accounts, often held by students or youngsters.