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Three arrests in money laundering operation

A man was arrested in the Poleglass area of West Belfast A man was arrested in the Poleglass area of West Belfast
By Conor McParland

THREE people were arrested on Monday across the north after a police search and arrest operation into money laundering.
Eight properties were searched in Craigavon and North and West Belfast, including Poleglass and the Shankill, by officers from the PSNI’s Economic Unit in ‘Operation Impervial’.
A 31-year-old man arrested has since been released on bail pending further enquiries.
A 24-year old man has been charged with money laundering, possession of a class B drug, possession of a class B drug with intent to supply, acquiring criminal property and converting criminal property. He is due to appear at Lisburn Magistrates Court on Monday, May 13.
A 29-year old woman was also arrested and has been charged with money laundering, acquiring criminal property and converting criminal property. She is due to appear at Laganside Magistrates Court on Monday, May 13.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson said: “Together with officers from neighbourhood and local policing teams and colleagues from PSNI’s Operational Support Department, we carried out a search and arrest operation targeting individuals who we suspect have been acting as money mules. This means that we believe that they have been involved in laundering money through their bank accounts on behalf of criminals.
“A money mule is a person who receives and transfers money illegally on behalf of others. Typically, the money has been received as the result of a scam or fraud and the victim sends the cash to the money mule’s account. It is then laundered by the mule who withdraws it, often changes it into a foreign currency and then passes it on to the criminal. The mule is allowed to keep a percentage of the total as payment. Money mules are often recruited through social media or word of mouth.
“I want to reinforce that acting as a money mule is not an easy way to make money. “It is a crime and allowing your account details to be used for fraud could lead to you serving a custodial sentence. Furthermore, when your bank account is used for money laundering, it can lead to you losing your bank account and finding it extremely difficult to get access to a new one. This can cause difficulties in the future ranging from problems receiving genuine payments e.g. salaries, benefits and pensions, to issues with obtaining a mobile phone contract.
“Today’s operation should serve as a warning that money laundering is a critical enabler of organised criminality and allows criminals to benefit from illegal activities such as fraud. We are committed to keeping people safe by robustly pursuing those involved in laundering criminally derived money. I’d also encourage the public to contact their bank immediately if they do receive money into their account from an unknown or untrusted source.
“I would appeal for anyone with any information on money mules to contact Police on 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
“For anyone concerned about becoming the victim of a scam, advice and information can be obtained by visiting nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page.”

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