Longford man handed suspended jail sentence for role in ‘money mule’ scam

A 58-year-man has been handed a suspended two year jail sentence at Longford Circuit Court for his part in a ‘money mule’ scam.

Kamoru Lawal, of the Hollows, Farnagh, Longford, pleaded guilty after almost €80,000 was transferred into his bank account in 2015.

Longford Circuit Court heard that an investigation began after a man called “Kevin Burke” alerted Barclays Bank in the UK that money had been transferred out of his account without his permission.

False emails, purporting to be from Mr Burke, had been sent to the bank in late August 2015 directing the bank to transfer cash into the account of the accused.

Pressure was applied on a Barclays staff member via email after the transaction was barred initially, and funds worth over €79,000 were subsequently transferred to a TSB account in Longford.

Detective Garda Niamh Seebry told the court that over the course of six days, up to 25 withdrawals were made including a Swift transfer of €30,000 to an Ulster Bank account in the name of the accused.

Gardai searched Mr Lawal’s home and found a receipt for the Swift transaction, while CCTV also showed him making various withdrawals from ATMs with a third party.

He was arrested in November 2016 and told Gardai that he believed the money was from the sale of land in Nigeria and he was helping a third party, who claimed not to have a bank account, access the money through his account.

He said the practice was common in Nigeria and did not know he was doing anything illegal and was unaware of any emails to Barclays Bank.

However, this third party denied he ever received the money and was not charged in connection with the Garda investigation.

The court heard the accused did not gain financially from the incident and the money was not recovered.

Mr Lawal, who heard proceedings via an interpreter, expressed “deep remorse and great shame” through his solicitor for his actions.

Judge Keenan Johnson said this type of ‘money mule’ scam was very prevalent and Gardai had recently warned young people of getting involved in it.

He said Mr Lawal was naïve in the extreme and handed him a two-year jail term, suspended for five years.

€500 brought to court as means of compensation by Mr Lawal was also handed over to the local branch of St Vincent de Paul.