Australian Police Continue ‘Money Mule’ Arrests, Confiscate Cash
Australian Federal Police (AFP) have arrested two Malaysian nationals in the western Sydney area in connection with a money-laundering operation that worked through cryptocurrency exchanges. The AFP seized nearly a quarter-million US dollars in cash in the case.
The investigation began in November this year, when police found that Australian currency was being transferred offshore through the cryptocurrency exchanges. That led the authorities to the two Malaysians in the Sydney suburb of Mt. Druitt.
The men were only identified by their ages and places of residence. The 37-year-old suspect lived in Rosebery, a neighborhood adjacent to the Sydney airport, while his 38-year-old colleague lived in Ashfield, northwest of Sydney.
On Nov. 19, the AFP authorities arrested the 37-year-old after he deposited more than US$14,000 in a bank in St. Mary’s, another western suburb. Following the arrest, the police questioned his 38-year-old associate who was waiting in a car near the bank and allegedly had $250,000 in cash.
Both men were charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime and are suspected of transferring more than $1.43 million offshore.
The 38-year-old man appeared in Burwood Local Court on Dec. 7, while the 37-year-old man is due in Downing Centre Local Court on Dec. 13.
Australian police have tackled money laundering on other fronts in recent weeks. Working jointly with police in 25 other countries in a crackdown on “money mules” who transfer illegal funds for pay, they charged 17 Australians with money laundering and blocked $1.85 million from being “cleaned” in this manner.
The authorities identified 27 money mules allegedly operating as heads of money laundering criminal organizations.
Ben Case, Acting Commander for Cybercrime for the AFP, said the arrests should serve as a warning to those hoping to make quick money. “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 said.
“If you're being promised a pay check 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."