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Black Axe fraud gang targeted by Garda in Dublin search – The Irish Times | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating

Gardaí investigating Black Axe gang operations in the Republic have seized a Range Rover vehicle valued at €100,000 and 30 mobile phones during a Dublin search.

A man arrested during the search, aged in his 20s, is suspected of controlling 50 ‘money mule’ bank accounts that were used to launder the proceeds of frauds by the gang. The money mostly came from bogus text message-based scams targeting people in Ireland.

The Black Axe gang started in Nigeria in 1977, initially as a university-based fraternity or cult whose logo at the time was a slave’s arms in shackles being broken by a black axe. However, it morphed into an organised crime group involved in drug dealing, murders, prostitution, people trafficking, gun running and intimidation.

Gardaí believe the group operating from Tallaght targeted in the latest searches is a key part of the infrastructure of the Black Axe gang in Ireland. A middle-aged man linked to that group is a person of interest to the Garda. The gang’s Irish infrastructure is so significant that some senior members operate from offices.

The bank accounts used in the frauds, which gardaí believe were being controlled by the suspect in his 20s arrested on Monday, are held in multiple jurisdictions including Norway, German and the State, as well as the United States..

The arrested man is a suspected ‘herder’ in the Black Axe operation, meaning he recruits and manages money mules, who are enticed into allowing their accounts to be used to move the proceeds of frauds through.

The arrested man has taken receipt of €196,000 into his bank accounts, with that flow of money coming through the mule accounts. Gardaí suspect other proceeds of the frauds the arrested man benefited from were paid to the money mules for allowing their accounts be used, though often their promised fees are never paid.

During the search in Tallaght on Monday gardaí also found a large volume of documents and other items they suspect were being used to run the money mule component of the Black Axe frauds.

The operation, by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, led to the seizure of passports; bank cards in the names of family members and suspected money mules along with other bank accounts details; cash in euro and dollar currencies; a note counter; details of companies and businesses; 30 mobile phones; and computers.

Best of 2022: The Black Axe gang’s Irish recruits

Originating in west Africa the Black Axe gang has quickly become one of the most successful groups in Irish organised crime. In the Republic, the gang has stolen or laundered €64 million, mainly through romance scams and invoice frauds. The Irish cell of Black Axe launders money by using a rapidly growing network of money mules in Ireland. Money mules’ accounts are used to take receipt of, and then disperse, the proceeds of frauds carried out by other Black Axe cells located in countries across the globe. Security and crime editor Conor Lally has the details.

A second man was also detained during the operation. He is a foreign national, aged in his 50s, who is believed to have entered the State illegally. He was being held by gardaí on Tuesday pending his removal from Ireland.

The seized Range Rover is believed to have been purchased with some of the proceeds of the frauds the suspects have been involved in.

“A man in his early 20s was arrested for an offence contrary to the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and is currently detained at a Garda station in Dublin,” Garda headquarters said in a statement, which added the man was “identified as being a suspected money mule herder recruiting money mules and managing their bank accounts”.

To date, the Black Axe gang in the Republic has stolen or laundered some €64 million, mainly through romance scams and invoice frauds.

The Irish cell of the gang launders money by using a rapidly growing network of money mules, whose bank accounts are used to receive and then disperse the proceeds of frauds carried out by other cells across the globe.

The dispersal of the money is intended to frustrate law enforcement and to create such a large network of transfers and withdrawals that the cash is laundered and withdrawn before banks are alerted and have time to freeze transactions.

The gang has, over the years, proven adept at harnessing technological advances – internet, mobile phones, social media, dating apps and online banking – which have allowed it to spread its fraud network across the world and the internet.


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