Student acted as 'money mule', Dundalk District Court heard

Student acted as 'money mule',  Dundalk District Court heard

Dundalk courthouse

A student with no previous convictions who acted as a ‘money mule’ was at the lower end of an elaborate scheme and in the end didn’t benefit from his role, Dundalk District Court heard last week.

After being asked by a friend, Damilola Ekundayo (20) Rockfield Manor, Hoeys Lane, Dundalk, handed over his bank card and allowed his account to be used to transfer money.

He admitted one count of engaging in converting/transferring/ handling/acquiring/ possessing or using property that was the proceeds of criminal conduct, to wit €10,000 credited to his bank account, while knowing that or being reckless as to whether the said property was the proceeds of criminal conduct, within the State, on May 25th last year.

The court was also told the defendant had also been threatened not to go to the guards.

A detective outlined how the financial controller of a Dublin hotel sent €96,000 to what he believed was the account of a builders’ providers.

However, the details of the account had been compromised and €10,000 was subsequently transferred to Mr. Ekundayo’s bank account.

Sums of €1,500 and €600 were withdrawn from this account at ATMs, and a further €2,100 was transferred to another account.

The defendant did not realise anything was wrong until he was informed that his bank account was being closed.

He was not the individual on CCTV footage withdrawing money from the cash machines.

The remaining €5,800 was recovered from his account.

The detective said another man threatened the accused not to go to the guards.

A friend had asked him initially. He did not make any money out of it.

When Judge McKiernan asked the detective ‘Do you believe that?’ he replied that the defendant made little or no money. He came voluntarily to Pearse Street Garda station in Dublin city centre and he has no previous convictions.

During cross examination by Defence counsel the detective said this was an elaborate scheme.

The court heard an email had come from Africa to defraud the company and students were generally targeted as money mules.

The judge asked: “Why would you do it? He had to know it wasn’t right…” but the barrister explained that his client thought he was doing this for a legitimate end although he acknowledged ‘he ought to have asked the question’.

He was reckless enough to turn a blind eye. He was promised ‘a few hundred euros’ but got nothing.

The lure of easy money was too great.

The court heard the first-year student at TUD, Blanchardstown, came from a good family, had shown remorse and had co-operated with gardaí.

After being told the case ‘could have implications for his credit rating’.

Judge McKiernan said: “He should have thought of that”.

The judge added: “A message has to go out. When we were in college we worked for money.”

The judge said the best she could do was remand the defendant on continuing bail for a year to May fourth 2022 and the Probation Act would be applied if there was no trouble in the meantime.

"The only reason (for this) is because he has a future ahead of him."

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