Cyberlaundering: Low Tech meets High Tech By Copyright 2001. Brett H. Bumeter I, Brett H. Bumeter, hereby grant the right to copy this article in its entirety or any portion thereof by any means possible   gm diet plan vegetarianand to distribute such copies freely and without charge. I request that when the entire article or any portion is included within another work, that such copied material be clearly and correctly cited to this original document.
This paper has been drafted as required for Professor Robert Munro’s 2001 spring semester course, Anti-Money Laundering (LWLLM106SP01) at
St Thomas University, School of Law as part of the Masters in International Taxation and LLM Program.


This paper serves to revisit the subject of Cyberlaundering. First, the history of money laundering will be summarized. Next, money laundering methodologies will be examined. The potential and probable current practices that can be referred to as cyberlaundering will be explored. This topic will be developed to highlight the criminal potential available for exploitation through cyberlaundering. In addition, the overall subject will be viewed from the subjective perspective of past methodologies of iPhone 8 Design and the potential for future combinations and permutations between tried and true criminal methods and newer internet methods of money laundering.


The purpose of this paper is to examine and emphasize combinations between past, present and future methods of money laundering. The premise of this paper derives from the idea that many processes in the digital age can be done faster and more efficiently using the tools available in cyber space. However, as many legitimate businesses, corporations and governments have learned, the internet is no cure all. Often times, the best internet tools find their origins in processes of the past. Criminals attempting to operate on the internet will be subject to this same axiom. As they attempt to invent new tools for laundering illegal funds, they will often times fail and revert to past methods. Unfortunately, the governments of the world attempting to prevent and stop money laundering, the more devious(ingenious) will develop processes that bring together the worst(best) money laundering schemes.


Understanding cyberlaundering requires an understanding of money laundering and its history. The history of money laundering begins with a investigation of the motivations for money laundering. The history of cybercrimes, financial crimes and money laundering and relevant cases will be the beginning. Next, the legislative history will be examined for the United State, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Finally, the methodologies of money laundering will be explored.


Money laundering is generally the result of several forces and actions normally initiated by governments coming together at one time. The first is a reporting requirement on income or wealth or spending. The second is legislation identifying certain activities as illegal. The third is the desire and ability of certain individuals or groups to engage in black-market or illegal activity involving the illegal activities, which require secrecy in regards to proceeds[1]. When combined and sometimes in part these circumstances form the basic motivations necessary to foster money laundering activities. In a Business Line report from June 19, 2000, Ms Patrick Moulette, a senior official of the OECD and member in the FATF, “Citing an IMF study on the scale of money-laundering, she said that worldwide this could be somewhere between 2 and 5 per cent of world GDP. On 1996 statistics, this translates into a range of $590 billions to $1.5 trillions.”[2]


The reporting requirement on income or wealth or spending is often the first catalyst found in societies that experience money laundering. Depending on the society, the reason(s) for reporting may vary. Often times this reporting requirements is directly related to taxation. Before a government can begin to tax its citizenship, a system and process for reporting those items that can be taxed must be developed. To name just a few, a government might institute taxes that target income, capital accumulation, capital spending, luxury purchases, sales tax etc.
The perception of a uniform or fair method for taxation is generally needed. This means that the government must establish a means for acquiring the data that is used to compute the tax due, reporting. Unless the governmental body decides to initiate a flat amount to be taxed to all or certain persons, some ratable method is necessary. The application of the rate is often the quick and easy step. The determination and calculation of the base to be taxed is often where black and white cease to exist and gray areas develop.

Legislation of Illegal Activities

The next catalyst that provides motivation for money launderers relates to illegal activities. Governments are usually responsible for the designation of illegal activities. Once legislated these activities if carried out may incur some detrimental legal sanction by the government. If the activities were left to public discretion, then there would be no criminal activity. If no activity is criminal then there is no need (1.) to report any financial information to the government, (2.) to be concerned about engaging in any activity for profit or otherwise, and (3.) to contemplate money laundering.
Different societies will focus on different activities, and at times these societies will differ in opinion as to the illegality of certain activities. At times, this will create situations whereby different governments conflict and illegal activities in one country are perfectly legal and encouraged in another. Sometimes different countries will compel other countries to either engage or disengage in these activities. Black market activities of one country might be promoted and encouraged by a country that opposes the government that has made the activity illegal. Conversely governments might attempt to discourage or openly prevent another country from engaging in activities that are illegal in the former and legal in the latter.

Engaging in Illegal Activities

The final catalyst that is necessary in order for money laundering to take place is people that are capable and willing to engage in illegal activities.

Through out almost all societies, certain people can compelled illegal activities. Some crimes may not bring high levels or any form of financial reward to the criminal engaging in the activity. On the other hand, some criminal activities can be extremely lucrative. These are the activities that can generate income of such a magnitude that money laundering becomes necessary to avoid the attention of law enforcement.

Some of these activities prove to be so extremely lucrative that the logistics of receiving, manipulating, storing and utilizing large volumes of cash prove to be very difficult to accomplish outside the view of law enforcement officials. This difficulty proves to decrease the relative value of the illegal profits. Physical cash that cannot be spent is of little value to anyone. Furthermore, large volumes of physical cash that might point law enforcement officials to a criminal become almost detrimental for criminals.
Criminals wishing to exist in society are also faced with the reporting requirements mentioned above. If they fail to comply, they may face legal sanction as well. Therefore, they must conform or present the perception of conformity for these reporting requirements in regards to their income, wealth, lifestyle, spending, purchasing, and gifts. This attempt at conformity or attempt to establish the perception of conformity is often where money laundering proves to be useful or necessary for a criminal.


Over the years many different means of money laundering have been developed and employed. Often times these methods revolved around similar concepts and their general characteristics did not change only the specific manners by which they were executed. Different forms of laws and legislation, which will be discussed in the next section, were enacted to curb and prevent money laundering. It may be considered that this has helped and maybe even slowed down criminals from advancing unchecked. However, many studies seem to indicate that the illegal activities are significant.

Prior to the Bank Secrecy Act, which now requires reporting of currency transactions, money laundering could quite simply be performed through a casino. Cash could be exchanged for gaming chips that were later exchanged for a cashiers check and the funds were cleaned. Today, casinos fall under the same Currency Transaction Reporting[3] (CTR) requirements as other financial institutions. Subsequently, they must aggregate cash transactions over a 24 hour period within their casino. Tribal casinos are required to aggregate over an entire year. Another tool available to prevent money laundering in casinos involves verified payments.

In Nevada, casino employees are required to sign their names on a form if more than $10,000 is paid out. This is supposed to prevent or at least deter and identify responsibility of money laundering through fake winnings[4].
Criminals utilize three principle phases in the money laundering process. These can and have been altered, transformed and mutated as legislation and situations change. Once you understand the three basic steps in laundering money, it becomes more apparent just how difficult it can be to prevent this activity. It also becomes easier to consider treating the problem instead of the symptom. However, as in medicine a holistic approach to anti-money laundering is most likely the best direction to follow.


The first step in the money laundering process is ‘Placement'[5]. This refers to the placement of cash funds back into the economy. For many citizens, it may not seem that difficult to spend cash at a restaurant, store, or even paying for services. Despite the popularity of credit and debit cards, cash is still a very popular choice when engaging in these types of activities. However, larger purchases and especially capital investments are not readily paid for with cash. The medium can be impractical and risky, even for a criminal.

It is therefore necessary to find a means of moving large quantities of cash back into some form of non-cash status. A bank, credit card, payment service, credit union, debit card, smart card, e-cash, digital cash, stocks, bonds, securities, etc. are all more practical areas for storing large volumes of money. Physical storage is not required. A return might be made on the funds. The funds can be more readily moved, exchanged or transferred, with little risk to the transferor or recipient.

The act of placing cash into one of the forms mentioned above is referred to as placement. There is legislation in place that attempts to identify large sums of cash that is being deposited or placed. Many financial institutions are required to report certain activities according to the Bank Secrecy Act, which will be covered later. This makes this stage in the process one of the more risky. The later stages are primarily in place to hide or obfuscate this action and the results of a successful placement of funds. The end goal for the criminal is to exchange large quantities of potentially useless cash for highly useful, safe and liquid forms in accounts or devices that might appear to be legal to law enforcement.

In the Rand report by Molonder, Mussington and Wilson a simplified placement example is provided for moving funds from the US to Mexico as follows[6]:

  1. Money from U.S. drug sales is converted into money orders.
  2. Money orders are shipped to Columbia via express mail.
  3. U.S. funds money orders are sold to a currency broker in exchange for Pesos.

Layering Once placed back into the money stream, the owner of the funds is left with funds that could potentially be traced directly back to illegal activity and even used as evidence to prove the existence of illegal activity.

This is extremely undesirable. Therefore, the criminal will normally have in place processes that will begin to move funds from the deposited accounts to other accounts in an attempt to create multiple steps in a layered process[7]. Funds will be moved often time from multiple locations to a single location or multiple pooling locations.

As in the case of placement, the criminal will not want to tip off law enforcement by transfers that might not fit within statistical profiles. Therefore, limits on the number of transfers, the size, and destination will often be varied and hidden behind sham business purposes. The transfers will move from country to country. Criminals often seek to take advantage of jurisdictions that have strong bank secrecy and asset protection regimes. They might transfer the funds in and out of one or multiple jurisdictions until eventually the trail is extremely difficult to trace.

Law enforcement would need to seek records from each bank along the transfer trail. In foreign jurisdictions, this process may require international treaties and legal maneuvering that is time consuming. Meanwhile, the criminal can continue to move the funds through more and other such jurisdictions. Until it may either be impossible to recreate or severely impractical and costly. This is one of the primary goals of the money launderer. However, if successful, this does not necessitate that the process is complete.


The final step in the money laundering process might be considered integration[8]. However, it must also be considered that this process can be circular. Once funds have been ‘laundered’ they might be utilized in the future to help disguise future deposits of ‘dirty’ money. It is at this stage in the process where the funds can be both ‘cleaned’ and ‘dirtied’ or tainted. It is the integration process, which takes the funds previously placed, changed from cash to deposit or transferable forms, and later layered, hidden or disguised, and attempts to permanently destroy or distort any lingering vestiges of illegality associated with the funds. The criminal goal at this stage of the process is to co-mingle illegal funds with legal funds together and move these funds on again. This will hopefully, from the criminal viewpoint, make it impossible to identify the illegal funds in the future.

During the integration phase the illegal funds after touring the world, are brought together with funds that are legal in perception. These joint funds are then utilized to purchase transferable assets, business ownership or investments, securities, or even to create the appearance of business income. The results of this integration are new forms of money, investments, and items that cannot be traced to an illegal source.


This paper will cover the major pieces of legislation in the United States, which in most cases is leading the fight against money laundering. In addition this paper will cover and compare the key pieces of money laundering legislation from the United Kingdom and Canada with that of the United States.

United States

An appropriate place to begin a study of the US statutes regarding money laundering would be in the United States Code. The appropriate legal codes relating to money laundering include Title 18 U.S.C. 1956[9], enacted in 1986, and Title 18 U.S.C.1957[10]. However, the history of US legislation begins with the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970(BSA)[11] This act is considered to be one of the initial legislative measures against money laundering in the US. Primarily targeted at tax fraud related activities, this act was also designed to create a paper trail for large currency transactions (Currency Transaction Report). Noncompliance could result in criminal and civil penalties. Under this act casinos among other groups were defined as financial institutions and subsequently had to report cash transactions over the $10,000 limit. Tribal casinos were not included in this act at this time. In addition to the CTR requirements, the act specifies that a report of international transportation of Currency and Monetary Instruments (CMIR) must be made for physical transportation of monies and similar instruments out of the US if the aggregate total exceeds the same $10,000 limit[12].

This act was upheld first in 1974 against a 4th amendment challenge in California Bankers Association v. Schultz, 416 U.S. 21. Then again in 1978 against a 1st amendment challenge in U.S. v. Fitzgibbon, 576 F.2d 279 (10th Cir.), cert. den. 439 U.S. 910 (1978). Finally, a 5th amendment challenge against this act was defeated in 1980 with U.S. v. Dichne, 612 F.2d 632 (2d Cir), cert. den. 445 U.S. 928 (1980).[13] Following the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, the next major piece of legislation was the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986(MLCA)[14]. This act officially made money laundering a crime. It created three offenses, which included:

  1. Knowingly helping launder money from criminal activity.
  2. Knowingly engaging (including by being willfully blind) in a transaction of more than $10,000 that involves property from criminal activity.
  3. Structuring transactions to avoid Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting.

In 1988, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act[15] allowed law enforcement the authority to seize assets that were involved in attempts to launder money or commit currency/banking crimes. It also required strict reporting rules for cash purchases of financial instruments, authorized the Treasury to require financial institutions to submit Geographically targeted reports (sometimes referred to as GTO’s Geographically Targeted Operations of the Treasury), directed the Treasury to negotiate international information sharing agreements, and increased the criminal sanctions for tax evasion relating to money laundering crimes.
In 1990 section 2532 of the Crime Control Act of 1990[16] set the stage for later calls for cooperation and sharing of information related to tax data and currency transfers. First, this act gave the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) the authority to request assistance of a foreign banking authority in conducting and investigation, examination or enforcement action. Second, this gave the OCC the power to accommodate similar request in the reverse. The purpose of these exchanges is to allow the investigating body the opportunity to determine if a person has, is or will violate any banking or currency transaction laws or regulations.

The Crime Control Act was supplemented a year later by the FDIC Corporation Improvement Act. Section 206 of The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act (FDICIA)[17] allowed the OCC to disclose to foreign bank regulators or supervisory authorities information that the OCC may discover.

Then in 1992, the Housing and Community Development Act, Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act,[18] gave regulators the power to close or seize institutions found guilty of money laundering activities. It also permitted the treasury to require financial institutions and their employees to report suspicious transactions relevant to possible violation of law or regulation. Plus it required financial institutions to adopt anti-money laundering programs. Furthermore, it amended the original BSA to define structuring activities as illegal money laundering activities. Structuring, sometimes referred to as smurfing, occurs when a reportable transaction report is avoided by breaking cash denominations down into fragments that do not exceed the $10,000 threshold[19].

In what is sometimes viewed as a streamlining initiative and other times considered a loosening of money laundering legislation, the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994[20] aimed to reduce and consolidate Currency Transaction Reports(CTR) to one destination. It further required certain “money transmitting businesses” to register with the Treasury. This act also redefined financial institutions to include tribal casinos, which were previously not covered under the BSA. Canada Money laundering initiatives were not as substantial in Canada as early as the American efforts. However, in 1989 the Proceeds of Crime Act (Bill C-61)[21][22] made up some ground by criminalizing money laundering activities. This act allowed for the seizure of property or profit resulting from drug or non-drug related crimes. Similar to the BSA act of the US and subsequent amendments this act required the filing of cash transaction reports for amounts of $10,000 or more. Later in 1993, the Seized Property Management Act[23] was instituted to create a mechanism for sharing seized assets amongst the provinces as opposed to the seized items defaulting to the federal government.

Finally, in 2000, the Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering Act (Bill C-22)[24] updated and replaced the earlier C-61 PCMLA from 1989. It created the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FinTrac) to receive transaction reports and analyze international financial movements through cross border currency reporting requirements. Some of the goals of this new act included the following:

  • Provide vital tools for law enforcement
  • Strike a balance between privacy rights and law enforcement needs
  • Minimize compliance costs for financial intermediaries
  • Contribute to international efforts to combat money laundering

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom political pressures delayed the emergence of anti-money laundering legislation until 1986. The conservative government at the time was ready to take a stance on Drug trafficking, however they were also promoting some of their territories to engage in offshore financial center activities to alleviate the social drain on the UK economy. Hence, in 1986 the Drug Trafficking Offences Act[25](DTOA) This act, which has mostly been repealed, did allow for the confiscation and seizure of properties in connections with drug trafficking crimes but did not take as strong of a stance on money laundering.

The Criminal Justice Act of 1988[26][27] picked up where the 86’ act had left off and made it a crime for a financial institution to allow the withdrawal of funds by a person is known or suspected to be engaging in criminal activity without the written consent of a constable. This crime can be punishable with up to 14 years in prison. This criminal activity unlike the 1986 act covered both drug and non-drug or enterprise.

Finally, with the Criminal Justice Act of 1993[28] the UK took a stronger stance on money laundering activities. This act declared activities criminal which relate to the laundering of proceeds of criminal conduct(non-drug). Furthermore, this act instituted the obligation to report persons suspected of money laundering activities. Then in 1994 the Drug Trafficking Act of 1994[29][30] replaced The Drug trafficking Offences Act of 1986(see above). This law updated and strengthened money laundering provisions of the previous act.


In comparing the money laundering statutes of the Untied States, Canada and the United Kingdom several similarities are apparent. Many of the statutes were set into law initiated by anti-drug policy. The United States Bank Secrecy Act being a partial exception to this. It would also appear that the anti-drug related legislation coincided along a similar timeline that could be a result of these countries with close economic and political ties.

In addition, the Canadian legislation would seem to mimic the United States legislation to include the establishment of an organization, FinTrac, similar in nature and utility to FinCen of the US. Along a similar vein both countries have cash transaction reporting mechanism established for activity over $10,000. However, the Canadian version has not kept pace with the additional tools given their American counterparts regarding Geographical Targeting of smaller transactions.

Other common threads in the various legislation would include the initiation of forfeiture laws first related to drug trafficking and later to non-drug offences and most notably money laundering activities. Another commonality can be found in the various requirements of financial institutions to report suspicious activity at penalty of criminal prosecution.

Abusive Business Transactions

Criminals with vast quantities of cash, will look for multiple avenues of integrating funds. From a business perspective, the criminal will attempt to diversify their risks of capture or seizure of funds. They may focus their efforts and their funds through primary venues until a time when that venue draws the attention of law enforcement officials. At which time, they will shift to secondary and/or tertiary plans. It can be assumed that they will attempt to maximize their conversion of illegal funds to legal funds, while minimizing the costs associated with laundering the funds.

The criminal will need to view the seizure of cash, as an not only a potential threat to the illegal organization but also as a cost of business. The threat to the illegal organization can be alleviated by utilizing employees that are relatively uninformed in regards to the organization and its operation. If one cell of the organization is captured by law enforcement like the tentacle of a squid, it will be severed and the remaining tentacles or cells will continue to operate unhindered. The others cells will however gain the experience and knowledge that the lost cell will generate upon capture. The remaining cells will be able to analyze the mistakes made and evolve their techniques to prevent future losses.


One primary target for money laundering through sham business transactions involves the services. It can be very difficult to identify whether an actual service has been provided or whether it has not. To integrate layered money, criminals may ‘pay’ funds for services that may never be performed or for services that are very difficult to justify or prove they have been performed.

The funds may move from one company to the next. The laundering companies may keep a percentage of the funds as the real fee, and then as agreed upon or according to plan pay these funds on to another organization for services that may or may not have taken place. Eventually the original criminal owner receives the funds back into their ownership or control through a legal business enterprise.


Loans can be one mechanism available for utilization by criminals. For example, a criminal may set up a company or partnership in a foreign country. For the purposes of this example, the company will be referred to as Company A. The ownership and control of Company A may be layered itself. The same criminal through similarly complicated and confusing arrangements will utilize a different company, Company B to loan questionable or illegal funds to Company A. Company A then never pays the loan back and Company B can write the loan off to some form of bad debt, possibly even seeking tax relief for this supposed loss.

The effect is that company A has funds now available that have been initially layered then supposedly handed off in a third party transaction. Company B can gain a tax deduction from the bad debt from the loan. This same scenario can be complicated even more by circular contracts and scenarios that move the loan from party to party to party. Each step furthers the criminal’s purpose by making it more difficult to track the illegal funds and even more difficult to potentially seize the actual illegal funds after they have been split, parted and combined with other funds.

Internet Gambling

Here is an example of one potential false business front abusing internet gambling. Don, a drug dealer, has drug funds deposited in e-cash. 1,000,000. Don owns an internet based casino Don, through intermediaries, utilizes an army of smurfs / gamblers. These smurfgamblers have several hundred email addresses. With each email address they sign up for a gambling listserver mailing(available to legitimate gamblers as well.) Don has a supposed promotional mailing to ‘drum up business.’ He sends a mailing on his list server offering $500.00 in e-chips. Out of no coincidence, his army of smurfs receive this mailing.

They proceed to gamble away this money received by each of their email addresses. Don’s casino now brings all of the funds from unrelated parties e-cash accounts into his business as ‘winnings’ revenue. (100 smurphs, w/ 100 emails, lose $500 /email ==> Don launders $5,000,000.00 in one mass gamble)

This same ‘drumming up business’ scenario could be recreated for any internet service related business. Even a simple subscription based service could be abused in this manner.


To the money launderer placement is the most difficult dangerous and important stage. However, if it is done quickly and the apparatus used can be flexible and broken down scattered moved and brought back up again somewhere else, Law enforcement’s task becomes very difficult utilizing old methods. New computing power and analysis tools will render layering & integration more difficult.

With this in mind, one area that money launderers might exploit is the area of micro-payments and micro-loans. According to authors Carsten Schmidt and Rudolf Muller in an a June 14, 1997 article titled A Framework for Micropayment Evaluation, “A definition of micropayments could be: Micropayments refer to low-value electronic financial transactions, ranging from a fraction of a cent to a few dollars.”[31] A microloan takes on different meanings when considered on a global basis. However, the general meaning is a small loan (relative to local economy) to a small enterprise or enterprising person often at a mildly low interest rate. Despite the similarity in the name these are completely different areas. recently began offering its patented one click payment system as a service to smaller websites. Visitors to these sights can donate to the website host by clicking through Amazon’s service. (Amazon takes a percentage of donation and one time service fee.)[32] Micropayments on the internet make far more sense (cents too) in a medium where margin costs are minimal. This has unleashed focus by programmers and web sight designers. Initially micropayments became an internet phenomena when websites and companies would pay affiliates, other websites that offered a hyperlink and/or banner ad to the paying website. Often these payments were fractional per actual click through. For example, company X pays company Y $6 /1000 visitors that are funneled from company Y’s website to company X’s site.

Normally a group or company or person might not have any motivation to break large dollar funds into hundreds of transactions that could be less than a dollar or even a penny. Researchers and government officials that are familiar with money laundering might recognize the potential available to launderers. These systems are growing in their efficiency. The future could easily bring money launderer’s the ability to move money in fractional automated systems. Such a system could drastically reduce the ability of law enforcement to conduct Geographically Targeted Orders(GTO)

False Business Fronts

In Billy Steel’s report Money Laundering – A Brief History, Billy discusses the roots of what might have been a slang term at one time in the United States during the early 20th century[34].

The term “money laundering” is said to originate from Mafia ownership of Laundromats in the United States. Gangsters there were earning huge sums in cash from extortion, prostitution, gambling and bootleg liquor. They needed to show a legitimate source for these monies.

One of the ways in which they were able to do this was by purchasing outwardly legitimate businesses and to mix their illicit earnings with the legitimate earnings they received from these businesses. Laundromats were chosen by these gangsters because they were cash businesses and this was an undoubted advantage to people like Al Capone who purchased them.

Whether stories of the origination of the term money laundering really derived from an actual laundry service that was paid cash by criminals to launder non-existent clothing is true or not is irrelevant. The story serves as a very good example of how easily a service oriented company might serve as a false front for taking in illegal funds and passing them through to their owners in the form of legal business profits. This activity may take place in a business that does absolutely no actual legal business, or the illegal funds might be co-mingled with funds brought in with normal business funds. In fact, in some cases criminals will contact legitimate business owners (or vice versa) to take in funds in the form of revenues in exchange for a percentage(fee).


If a criminal is unable to exchange nothing for something, illegal funds, then the next best thing may include exchanging something worth nothing, intangibles, for illegal funds. Sometimes even under the best of circumstances it can be difficult for investors to determine the value of a company. Three different investment analysts can attempt to value a company and utilizing different but acceptable methods they can come up with different valuation results. Criminals can take advantage of the subjective gray areas of company and stock valuations. By working in less restricted areas sometimes with companies that are privately held or with worthless corporate paper and corporate shells left after a bankruptcy, criminal’s through intermediaries and money launderer’s can engage in fund transfers for intangible ownership in a company that may exist in name and on paper only. Likewise they can set up transactions that effect no real result or a result that is extremely difficult to ascertain.


Similar to the abuse that the loan transaction can suffer, insurance products can be abused as well. A criminal through a myriad of businesses and partnerships with distorted ownership might engage an insurer to take out a policy. The policy may then be paid in full. The criminal will borrow against the policy and never pay the funds back. The penalty normally associated with these loans or withdrawal becomes the fee for cleaning the money. The risks that insurance companies face and pose in regards to money laundering is quite serious. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its 40 Recommendations specifically identified that financial institutions should understand that in regards to future reporting requirements, “The word “transactions” should be understood to refer to the insurance product itself, the premium payment and the benefits.


Stocks and bonds and many other securities can face similar perils and abuses. Companies that may not operate within the confines and control of the Securities and Exchange Commission or similar regulatory agencies around the world can engage in activities where by potentially worthless paper amounting to the ownership of a valueless company or collateral of a company can be exchanged in return for illegal funds. The funds transfer from the criminal or the criminal’s agent after being layered to the 3rd party selling the worthless security. This party takes an agreed upon percentage and then in turn purchases something or pays for a ‘service’ from a different distantly owned company or partnership controlled by the original criminal.

Securities can and have also played a significant role in the layering stage of the process. For many years bearer bonds, securities that do not report the owner of the security to any regulatory body and may be freely transferred from owner to owner and ultimately cashed by the ‘bearer’ or owner, were one of the most popular methods for consolidating large sums of physical cash in the form of a bearer note with a very high value. Parallels to these forms can even be drawn to anonymous forms of smart cards that maintain funds electronically and can be physically exchanged from owner to owner and ultimately redeemed or transferred by the holder of the card.

Futures and commodities can be a prime target for money laundering given their zero sum nature. Since there is generally a person buying and one selling on each side of a future contract with a broker in the middle this type of transaction is a ripe target for a money launderer wishing to integrate funds for the price of a commission. They simply buy and sell on both sides of the transaction. The tainted funds are paid in and laundered funds come back[36]. A Bottom Line report from June 16, of 2000 states it like this, “By assigning trading gains and losses to two different accounts, one “regular” and the other to receive the laundered funds, the dealer could put through a laundering operation on the loss account with breaking the law.”[37] One example of a method used for the laundering of drug funds is called the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE). This method avoids the reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act. Through a series of steps a foreign currency broker can effectively launder funds on a continuous basis for drug dealers virtually bypassing the placement and layering stage, operating almost entirely in a integration loop.

Here is an example of how the Black Market Peso Exchange works. Narcotics are exported to the United States for US currency. A currency broker owning pesos in the country of narcotics origin enters into a contract with the drug dealers to exchange control of Pesos in the original country for dollars in the US. The exchange occurs and at this point the drug dealers have clean Pesos. The currency broker then begins to place the US dollars in the US banking system. Importers seeking to purchase goods from the US may engage the Peso broker to buy US dollars to buy imports. The US dollars are paid to US manufacturers and the Peso broker receives new Pesos from the Importers in the originating country, which can be used all over again for the drug dealers

Physical Property

A third area that criminals utilize to integrate their illegal proceeds is physical property. Money launderer’s can find uses for both real and personal property. Personal property can be rather easily exchanged and moved from location to location and sometimes from country to country. Real property can serve as a form of investment and depending on how the purchase is structured can prove difficult for law enforcement officials to trace ownership in a timely and efficient manner.

Real Property

As mentioned above real property can serve as an investment vehicle. Real property can retain value for long periods of time and in many cases appreciate over time. For a criminal it can be used for further business ventures of the legal and illegal variety. The ownership of property can also be used in conjunction with other types of money laundering. For example, property may be purchased with illegal funds. Later or soon after a mortgage device will be used to draw clean funds out of the property. At this time the mortgage may then go into default and the lender assumes ownership of the property. The criminal walks away with clean funds.

Personal Property

Personal property can come in forms that retain value and those that have short life spans in terms of value. Primary forms of personal property that criminals often consider include automobiles and diamonds. Diamonds can in some cases be used similar to a currency and they are relatively small and therefore more easily smuggled across borders. Many organizations are working to create methods for tracking diamonds by engraving a form of serial number, bar code, electric charge or even recording the diamonds visual ‘finger print.’ However, these methods have not entirely caught on yet and might never catch on in the mainstream.

Automobiles can degenerate over time, especially if they are used and not stored for investment purposes. They can be proffered to criminal henchmen as a form of salary, perk or payment. Alternatively, they can also be shipped cross borders and if the transaction is hidden well enough later converted back into some form of legal business profits.


Gold has been used as a currency for thousands of years. In recent decades as the world transitioned to a global economy, nations have moved away from gold to paper currency backed by gold. This same paper currency has made money laundering more difficult for money launderers. It is difficult for them to integrate currency into the world banking system and move, hide and utilize funds gained from illegal operations.

Gold may quickly may be in the process of solving this problem for money launderers. It holds value like currency. It is fairly readily exchangeable in foreign markets. It can be hidden or disguised as other metals and smuggled across borders. David Kaplan’s US News & World Report article titled The Golden Age of Crime illustrates this point “In one case, a woman flying to Colombia from New York was stopped with two tractor-trailer hitches, seemingly made of steel. Under the paint, inspectors say they found solid gold.”[39] The gold smugglers share motivations not only with money launderers but with many less reputable gold dealers that are seeking to avoid tariffs and potentially evade taxes even. One of the most important attributes of gold for money launderers is the fact that it can be melted down and changed in form or combined with other gold. This makes it very difficult to trace.

As a commodity, gold brings with it some of the same trading advantages discussed previously with futures and derivatives. A drug dealer could potentially launder money through the trade of gold or even through the futures market with gold or some combination of the two forms.

Gold can point the way towards the future of cyberlaundering as well. Like gold different forms of digital cash, e-cash and smart cards can transmit a currency value through many different means. The digital information can be stored on a smart card within the chip, however a chip can be placed almost anywhere. Authorities are concerned also about the unauthorized modification of smart cards to allow for cash storage limits (normally a few thousand dollars) to be exceeded. This is unnecessary if the funds on a batch of smart cards can be uploaded into one device.

Furthermore, the transmittal of funds via the internet can prove very difficult for tracking purposes. This same digital code that can stored on a chip and physically shipped could be just as easily hidden in the code of seemingly innocent programs. It could even be carried on the back of a computer virus. The ability for cyber funds to take on different forms and allude detection during movement, while retaining value is very similar to the problems that authorities are experiencing with the exchange of gold today. The key difference is that gold generally must be traded through some type of exchange.

Currently, money launderers are taking advantage of the an industry that is riddled with poor accounting practices, and little regulation. Many in South America are concerned that what is left of legitimate gold trading businesses and operations are being over run by drug traffickers. These problems are all identifiable and potentially could be regulated and policed. When and as this occurs money launderers and drug traffickers could easily transplant their operations and methods into the digital arena.

Miami is often the US destination for gold from Latin America. “In the past 10 years, nearly $2.5 billion in foreign gold flowed into Miami–despite Florida’s lack of a jewelry-making industry. Authorities say much of the gold is tied to money laundering and tax scams.”[40] One method for laundering gold works like this. Drug proceeds are used to purchase gold (ingots, jewelry, etc.). This gold is then smuggled across the border and sold in an exchange. The funds received are then clean since the source of the gold is not determinable. Often times it can be possible for the same or another drug dealer to purchase the gold smuggle it back across the border or export it and start the process all over again.

Audit Trail Complications

Traditionally, one of the areas that law enforcement and legislation aimed at money laundering has focused is the trail of receipts, deposits, transactions and transfers that occur throughout the three stages of the process. This trail of information is referred to as the audit trail. On occasion law enforcement officials are able to catch criminals in the act of transporting hordes of cash or attempting to deposit or spend large amounts of cash. However, the volume of activity and associated workload to track the criminal activity makes it more practical for law enforcement to statistically investigate those transactions that may not fall within the realm of legal activity.

Criminals have developed several methods to avoid attention. While these activities touch upon the three main phases, they may not necessarily be considered part of those phases. Instead they are more complimentary. They can be engaged in prior to an action, during an action or after an action. The basic goals of these exercises are to distract and delay law enforcement officials. If possible they will even seek to permanently destroy records of past transactions. Organized criminals can bring to bear the power of the internet and their knowledge of the inherent weaknesses of this new system.


One tool available and utilized by criminals is hacking. Hacking refers to the unauthorized access, or break-in, of another computer system. A person that performs a hack is called a hacker. The internet and the systems that are linked to the internet are no safer than the security programs and encryption techniques. Consideration for this is often understood and taken as a given. However, equally important is the security of the physical network itself, the physical computer system(mainframe, network, workstation, or printing device).

There are many different types of hacks. Someone may attempt to gain access to a system or network. While in the system, they may look around, they may attempt to destroy or alter the data present, they may attempt to steal data, or they might use the system and its capabilities to gain access to another system. This last item shares some principles with the layering concept of money laundering. Essentially the hacker is attempting to disguise the route from which they are performing their crime. Just as in money laundering this serves to delay any negative repercussions that they might suffer or even prevent them from being caught or noticed.

The end result of such a hack can be that the hacker gains access to information and manipulates it without anyone being able to trace the whereabouts of the person actually performing the hack. Many high profile cases of teenagers and college students that have performed hacks over the years have gained a great deal of attention. Most of the hackers have been caught and brought before the public. These hackers are not very sophisticated and more importantly they do not have the resources of organized crime. If sophistication, money and motivation are provided to hackers it becomes far more difficult to catch or even prosecute them[41].

This does not mean that the naïve unsophisticated hacker is not dangerous or even useful to organized criminals. Not all hackers will be working for or in conjunction with organized crime. If a hacker finds a weak link in the defenses of a website for a financial institution, a business, or a law enforcement site. There is a good chance that they may share this information with others. Eventually the methodology may find its way to someone, who would exploit the information.

From the money launderer’s perspective hacking and hackers can offer many useful tools. Money launderer’s can gain valuable information from financial institutions that they may wish to utilize. The information can range from account information to bank personnel records to security information to compliance records. They may even gain an overall impression of a particular institutions savvy, sophistication and competence.

Similarly hackers can identify businesses that might be ripe for abuse or exploitation. A closely held company in financial trouble might be more susceptible to temptations and traps that organized criminals can utilize to recruit new fronts.

Identity theft is another area that hackers can cause problems. Money launderer’s in their quest to place money in financial institutions around the world need smurfs willing to deposit physical cash. These smurfs often deposit funds all day long, traveling from bank to bank in different cities and states. The money launderer’s require fewer smurfs if they can provide multiple identities to their smurfs.

Hackers can gather personal identification information from the internet. With a social security number, birth date and maybe a credit card number a person can establish a false identity. Recently headlines were made when a man allegedly attempted to access brokerage accounts for a few wealthy and famous people including Oprah Winfrey, George Soros, and Ted Turner. This person was actually able to gather credit reports on some of these individuals in order to concoct the fake identity[42].

Less organized crooks often attempt scams to open deposit and checking accounts only to defraud the institution by writing bad checks or maybe even taking out new credit cards and charging up high balances. Organize criminals may participate in these activities as well. However, at a higher level in organized crime, an identity might be more valuable for placing large quantities of cash over wide geographic areas than defrauding banks and credit card companies for a few thousand dollars before the identity is no longer useful.

Finally, an organized criminal can clandestinely utilize the services of a hacker(s) to infiltrate, sabotage and or destroy a computer system maintained within a business owned by the criminal. The obvious reason for such a move would be to destroy evidence of past illegal activity and inline with this subject, money laundering. This is a high tech solution that follows past practices. It might be just as easy to physically destroy a computer or office or books or paper work. However, if a hacker can penetrate the system from a remote, safe location, and perform the same function without leave a trail of physical evidence and DNA, then the crime is that much more difficult to find.

False Hacks

Organized criminals in attempt to provide disinformation and throw off a trail might employ the use of false hacks. They may want to destroy information and blame it on hackers. They might want to alter information and taint the existing records and evidence to throw potential investigators off. By establishing the possibility of a hackers insurgence or activities, the door is opened for a criminal defense.

Enforcement Sight Hacks

Law enforcement web sights and more specifically computer systems are not entirely impervious to hacker’s attacks. There are a myriad of different types of information that organized criminals would like to gain. However, for the purposes of this discussion we will narrow this topic down to those that could be used for money laundering purposes. Potential targets will include any information on current investigations, potential investigation targets, investigation personnel and procedures, and actual evidence.

While law enforcement officials work vigorously to defend and structure their systems to prevent compromises, the motivations for potential attacks are important to consider. These motivations help us to understand the lengths that criminals may go to attain their goals. It also helps to identify those areas that are the most vulnerable and the most likely targets.

Current Investigations

Information on current investigations by law enforcement officials can provide valuable insights and guidance to criminals. This information can indicate to where law enforcement officials are currently looking as well as where they are not looking. It can define the extent of knowledge that law enforcement has currently gathered and potentially the sources of this information.

Criminals may attempt to gain access to information on evidence. They might attempt to destroy this data or maybe even destroy systems or storage devices that contain this data. If only one type of evidence is destroyed relating to one specific investigation, the likely target will be more obvious than if a large swath of data is destroyed that touches on multiple investigations.

In addition to destroying this information, alterations of data may mislead investigators or direct them in the wrong direction. This could increase the lead and the layers of data between the criminals and the law enforcement officials.

Potential Investigation Targets

Information on potential investigation targets and suspects could provide the advanced warning to criminals that might allow them to close down operations of one type in one location. The criminals could then restart operations in a new location at a later time utilizing different methods. Law enforcement officials might still be able to find older evidence from the previous operation, but the trail might age rapidly. Plus, the organized criminals with advanced warning might be able to obliterate the trail or provide false information and leads to direct the officials in a meaningless chase.

Investigation Procedures

The actual investigation procedures and personnel engaged in these procedures could be a source of information that could be very detrimental to law enforcement efforts to thwart money launderers and organized criminals. If hackers or criminals gain access to this information, they can better tailor their efforts around these procedures. A good example of this could be found in the evolution of organized criminals that utilize smurfs. Legislation directs financial institutions to collect documentation on deposits that exceed $10,000. Consequently organized criminals have instituted armies of personnel to deposit funds in amounts below this threshold. Furthermore, they spread this activity over large areas to evade statistical analysis that might otherwise notify law enforcement of this activity.

In today’s information age, the relatively new GTO’s might not succeed with criminals that increasingly become more informed and technically proficient and adaptable. Money launderer’s might redirect their efforts out of area or through cyber payment like devices and processes if they are notified that such an order has been enacted in their area. Given that these GTO’s cannot hardly be kept secret since all reporting financial institutions will need to be aware of the more stringent reporting requirements, it is very likely that money launderers could find out quickly


Money laundering motivations will continue and may even increase as more demand for illegal products grow in developing nations around the world. The general methodologies will also remain the same. Law enforcement and legislators around the world will need to remain vigilant in identifying the latest means of money laundering that criminals are utilizing. Furthermore, significant strides must be made in profiling and identifying the alternatives available to criminals if their primary means of laundering money is shut down or thwarted. Governments will need to take advantage of the very same tools that money launderers will utilize to track and trace old processes put in place in cyberspace. This will require cooperation and information sharing as well as significant resources. Fortunately for law enforcement it is rare when a completely new method for committing these crimes is invented. It is far more common for older methods to be reinvented using new tools within new societal structures. This will be the challenge for anti-money laundering efforts in the future.

[1] Money Laundering and Flight Capital: The Impact on Private Banking., Baker, Raymond., Economic Studies., found at 29 May 2001.

[2] Money-Laundering remains a menace worldwide: OECD., Business Line Internet Edition,. 19 June 2000, found at

[3]Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN., Pg. 6. found at (Please note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.) “Covered financial institutions must file a CTR for each transaction in which they are involved that exceeds $10,000. Under this requirement, multiple currency transactions are treated as a single transaction if they total more than $10,000 during any one business day.”

[4] Money Laundering through Casinos., Grabbe, J. Orlin., 30 May 2001, found at

[5] Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN., Pg. 5. found at (Please note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.)

[6] Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN., Pg. 7. found at (Please note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.)

[7] Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN., Pg. 5. found at note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.)

[8] Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN., Pg. 6. found at (Please note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.)


[10]United States Code ,TITLE 18 – CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE , PART I – CRIMES, CHAPTER 95 – RACKETEERING , Sec. 1957. Engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity., found at

[11]The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks found at

[12] Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN., Pg. 6. found at (Please note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.)

[13] Anti-Money Laundering Handbook4.3.4, Chp. 5 Bank Secrecy Act History and Law, Tax Professional’s Corner., found at

[14] The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks found at

[15] The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks found at

[16] Section 2532 of the Crime Control Act of 1990, Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks found at

[17] Section 206 of The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act (FDICIA) of 1991, Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks found at

[18] The Housing and Community Development Act of 1992, Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks found at

[19] Money Laundering through Casinos., Grabbe, J. Orlin., 30 May 2001, found at

[20] Money Laundering: United States’ Policy Decisions, Bitkower, Amy., 31 May 2001, found at

[21]CANADIAN MONEY LAUNDERING LAWS AND PROGRAMS, Enforcement Efforts to Deter Money-Laundering found at

[22] Proceeds of Crime Act (Bill C-61) 1989, Proceeds of Crime Unit, found at

[23] Seized Property Management Act 1993, Proceeds of Crime Unit, found at

[24] Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering Act (Bill C-22) Finance CanadaProceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Regulations – Consultation Paper: 1, 31 May 2001, found at

[25] The Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988, found at

[26] Criminal Justice Act of 1988 , c. 33, found at Criminal Justice Act of 1988

[27] Suspicion of Money Laundering: What About My Human Rights?, Friedman, Paul., Baker and McKenzie, March 2001 found at

[28] Crimainal Justice Act of 1993, c. 36, found at

[29] Drug Trafficking Act 1994, 1994 c. 37 , found at

[30] Drug Trafficking Act 1994 , 1994 c. 37,Continued found at

[31] A Framework for Micropayment Evaluation. Muller, Rudolf., and Schmidt, Carsten., 14 Jun 1997 found at

[32] “Of pineapples, barbecues, and the Amazon honor system.” Computer Shopper., June 2001, Pg 24.

[33] Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN., Pg. 9. found at (Please note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.)

[34] Money Laundering-A Brief History., Steel, Billy., Billy’s Money Laundering Information Website., 8 Dec 2000 found at

[35] International Efforts To Contain Money Laundering presented at the Seminar “Money Laundering: Joining Forces To Prevent It.”, 8 Apr 1997 found at

[36] Money Laundering – Business Areas Prone to Money Laundering., Steel, Billy., 8 Dec 2000., found at

[37] Money-Laundering remains a menace worldwide: OECD., Business Line Internet Edition,. 19 June 2000, found at

[38] Money Laundering: Black Market Peso Brokering, US Treasury website, 29 May 2001, found at

[39] The Golden Age of Crime., Kaplan, David E., US News & World Report, 29 Nov 1999, found at

[40] The Golden Age of Crime., Kaplan, David E., US News & World Report, 29 Nov 1999, found at

[41] Hack Attack., Browning, Graeme.,, 1 Aug 1997 found at

[42] Oprah, Call Your Broker., Walsh, Sharon., The Industry Standard Magazine., 2 Apr 2001., found at

[43] Cyberpayments and Money Laundering: Problems and Promise. Molonder, Roger C., Mussington David A., Wilson, Peter A., Rand 1998., MR-965-OSTP/FinCEN; Tab G, found at (Please note the authors names were not legible on this website, I have done my best to read and spell these names correctly.)

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