UK banking fraudsters sentenced to over 13 years
But the Police Central e-Crime Unit says the crimes wouldn't have happened without the money mules.
Four men from Uzbekistan, Angola and Portugal were sentenced to terms of 21 months to up to four-and-a-half years for crimes including conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
Another man from Venezuela did not turn up for his sentencing and is now wanted by the police.
The Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) played a major part in the investigation, which was the first operation of its kind undertaken by the PCeU in conjunction with industry, including the financial and banking sectors.
Victims unknowingly downloaded a trojan, which would wait on the computer until a customer logged on to their online bank account. Once the virus gained access, it would call out to a server and request a page to be inserted into a customer's online session.
The new page would mirror the design of the victim's real bank page and ask them to put in personal data like sort codes and account numbers. This would allow a third party to transfer the money to a mule account'.
Money mules, who received a cut of the proceeds which was usually less than agreed, would then transfer the money to Eastern Europe.
Detective Constable Kevin Brocklesby from the PCeU said in a statement: "This was a complex investigation which certainly involves other people in Russia, but there was a clear structure to the organisation in the UK."
"Plenty of people appear to be willing to accept money into their accounts with no questions asked, and they are a crucial cog in this kind of criminal machine," he added.
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