December 5: More than 200 people have been arrested in 31 countries as part of a global crackdown on money laundering, the European Union's police agency Europol said on Wednesday.
AFP reported that the swoop during September and November resulted in 228 arrests of people involved in so-called money muling -- when people often unwittingly help transfer illegally obtained money between accounts or countries -- Europol said in a statement.
According to the French news agency, law enforcement authorities in European countries as well as Australia, the United States and Ukraine took part in the operation.
"More than 650 banks, 17 bank associations and other financial institutions helped to report 7,520 fraudulent money mule transactions, preventing a total loss of 12.9 million euros ($14.3 million)," AFP quoted the statement.
The organisation said recruiters of money mules were increasingly using online dating sites and social media to groom their victims and convince them to open bank accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds.
"Even if money mules act unwittingly, they are committing a crime. Law enforcement will turn first to whoever's name features on the bank account, and the legal consequences can be severe," Europol said.