The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) estimates that up to 500,000 “mule accounts“, used to launder money and facilitate fraud, exist nationwide. Bank customers using ATMs to deposit cash will be asked to provide identification beginning next month.
Amlo spokesman Witthaya Nititham said on Thursday that out of the 121 million accounts in use across the country, between 200,000 and 500,000 could be mule accounts.
Authorities from Amlo and the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau of the local police force are combing through user profiles that they believe were set up by proxies on behalf of scam groups.
He said that authorities have already uncovered over 10,000 people responsible for opening over 70,000 “mule accounts”.
Police investigations into fraud cases allowed for the tracking of money transfers made by victims, allowing for their identification.
When given the information, commercial banks promptly placed a hold on the accounts in question.
According to Mr. Witthaya, Amlo has been collecting data on proxy accounts and has discovered a weekly growth rate of around 1,000 new accounts.
Customers making cash deposits at ATMs as of November 11 will be required to show identification. A citizen’s ID number and a mobile phone number are required for every machine deposit of up to 30,000 baht. The bank will send the depositor a one-time password (OTP) to enter before completing the deposit.
The depositor must present their ATM, debit card, or credit card details and PIN for each machine deposit between 30,000 and 100,000 baht.
According to Mr. Witthaya, Amlo has confiscated and frozen assets worth more than 9.4 billion baht in fraud and online gambling cases over the past year. Legal proceedings have mostly concluded, with the state successfully claiming assets worth 8.8 billion baht.
Understanding Mule Accounts
In common parlance, a “mule account” is a financial or banking account that serves as a conduit for the proceeds of unlawful or dishonest operations. Money laundering, fraud, and other forms of illegal financial activity frequently make use of these accounts. Online fraud, identity theft, and phishing are just some of the frauds that might include “mule” accounts.
The most common applications of mule accounts are as follows:
Criminals can launder money from unlawful activity by depositing it into “mule” accounts. They launder their stolen money by depositing it into these accounts.
Scammers may use phishing and other fraudulent techniques to trick people into opening bank accounts and sending them money. It is common practise to utilise “money mules” to receive and move stolen payments.
Theft of Identity: Identity thieves may use stolen information to open “mule accounts” in the names of unsuspecting victims.
Some online frauds involve using “mule” accounts to collect money for promised but never delivered goods or services.
You should know that engaging in mule account activity is against the law and can lead to serious consequences, including as arrest and jail time. People should exercise caution when handling money and stay away from any transactions that seem fishy or that entail receiving or transferring funds for unknown parties.
In order to avoid money laundering and other financial crimes, banking institutions and law enforcement agencies regularly monitor and investigate such activity. It is imperative that you notify the proper authorities or your bank if you believe you have been requested to participate in any activity linked to mule accounts.