Every year, more than $1.5 billion in concealed transactions are purposefully moved around the globe. And about 20 percent of the hidden and illicit transfers occur in the United States, according to a U.S. Department of the Treasury report on money laundering and terrorist financing threats.
Transnational criminal organizations, foreign intelligence services, and terrorist groups—as well as Internet fraudsters and other criminals—move billions of dollars each year through the international banking system and across borders to conceal the origin of the funds. To more effectively address the threat, the FBI has placed a renewed emphasis on investigations that target the middlemen who facilitate the hidden flow of cash.
James Barnacle, who heads the FBI’s Money Laundering Unit, said “Our focus is on third-party facilitators. They include, among others, lawyers, accountants, and brokers with the ability to facilitate the process of moving money for dangerous criminal organizations. That’s who our targets are.”
The facilitators use traditional and non-traditional means to launder staggering amounts of illicit proceeds every year. Barnacle said business e-mail compromise, or BEC, scams and the use of virtual currencies are on the rise
Innovations in technology have made it easier for launderers to communicate anonymously and move money, making it more challenging to identify, investigate, and prosecute launderers, who shield a staggering amount of money in their varied illegal transactions. These types of crimes often come to light through tips from within the private sector or the general public.
“One of the tools used to combat money laundering is the Internet Crime Complaint Center website, or IC3.gov,” said Barnacle. “We encourage victims of fraud to submit a report on the IC3.gov site as soon as possible. It’s a tremendous asset for our team.”
One of the Money Laundering Unit’s most critical partnerships is with the private sector, where financial institutions face significant risks and are required to have robust anti-money laundering policies and procedures.
Culled article, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is the process by which criminals conceal or disguise their proceeds and make them appear to have come from legitimate sources.
Money laundering allows criminals to hide and accumulate wealth, avoid prosecution, evade taxes, increase profits through reinvestment, and fund further criminal activity.
While many definitions for money laundering exist, it can be defined very simply as turning “dirty” money into “clean” money. And it’s a significant crime—money laundering can undermine the integrity and stability of financial institutions and systems, discourage foreign investment, and distort international capital flows.
The Most law enforcement agencies focus their effort on money laundering facilitation, targeting professional money launderers, key facilitators, gatekeepers, and complicit financial institutions, among others.
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