Money laundering in the criminal world is a phenomenon that has been used for decades. The term “money laundering” originated thanks to the well-known mafia Al Capone. Money flowed to him like a river, so it was difficult to cope with the flow. Then he came up with a brilliant idea: to create a network of laundries where it is impossible to track the number of customers, and therefore profit. How do scammers use the legacy of a criminal genius in our time? We will tell you in this article.
Money Laundering using Crypts
Digital assets are often involved in money laundering, terrorist sponsorship, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and black market trading. At the dawn of the crypto industry, scammers used crypto exchanges to cash out stolen coins. From 2011 to 2019, up to 80% of BTC transactions were cashed in this way. Governments of various countries and financial regulators call cryptocurrency a place of increased risk associated with fraud, money laundering and crime. However, they do not provide intelligible evidence for their words. Press secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that digital assets are capable of provoking the appearance of “MMM 2.0”. One of the main arguments for confirming the benefits of criminality of cryptocurrencies is the convenience of their use. But is it really as convenient to launder funds through cryptocurrency as they say? We will analyze further.
In what way and for what purpose is money laundered?
Before you start delving into this issue, it is worth understanding the terminology. Money laundering is necessary in order to give a legal status to funds that were obtained illegally. “Dirty money” can come in different ways: drug trafficking, bribes, embezzlement from budget funds. However, not only this kind of income needs to be “laundered”, it happens that it is necessary to launder legally received money. For example, the profit from the sale of goods that were hidden from the tax service. The main problem of “dirty money” is the need to explain to law enforcement and regulatory authorities where this money came from. If it turns out that a person without an official job and a source of income buys an expensive car for himself, and then a country house, most likely, the tax service will wonder where he took the funds for all this good. Then this person will be asked to provide a report on the origin of the money.
The only way to bring such purchases is cash. Government agencies are unable to control the cash flow of money. Therefore, this method is the most reliable method of not getting into the field of view of the tax service. However, in developed countries, it will be problematic to use this method. The fact is that in the USA and in Europe it is unlikely to be possible to buy real estate or a car from the salon, having only cash, since this is strictly monitored. Therefore, in these countries, they use a tricky three-step scheme: “placement-entanglement-integration”. This scheme is well explained by lawyer Saul Goodman in the popular TV show “Breaking Bad”. In this scheme, “dirty” cash is transferred in various ways to a non-cash form to a bank account (ideally in an offshore jurisdiction that does not disclose information about its customers). After that, the money is moved from account to account, from country to country, in order to hide its original origin. And the last stage – “dirty” money is integrated into the legal financial turnover, becoming “clean”.
In the show, we could see how the “integration” stage works. It worked as follows: donations were transferred to the main character for treatment, plus the money was “laundered” at the car wash. It is noteworthy that only a small part of the funds can be laundered in such ways, and the main character had $ 70 million. As a result, he simply buried the money in the desert.
But what could the main character do in our time, having access to a cryptocurrency system? Would he have been able to launder all $70 million?
Money laundering through digital assets
So, there is $70 million that needs to be “laundered”, what problems will get in the way?
The first problem (placement)
Today, all cryptocurrency exchanges work mainly with non-cash bank transfers. Imagine that the main character managed to find a holder of such an amount of BTC that is ready to exchange for fiat. The question arises about the security of such a transaction. Besides, how will he legally dispose of millions now? Now the next difficulty will be that crypto platforms that work with large amounts require user verification. Although there are illegal offices that are ready to exchange large sums anonymously, for a fee. Therefore, we can assume that the main character could purchase BTC in this way.
The second problem (moving)
Special services have quite a lot of ways to compare cryptocurrency transfers and wallets with real people. If you believe the law enforcement agencies, then no cryptocurrency can guarantee anonymity. However, there are coins such as Monero and Zcash, in which the US Secret Service sees a threat. You can also always use the services of cryptocurrency mixers.
The third problem (integration)
The irony of the current situation with money laundering through cryptocurrencies is that digital assets themselves are considered suspicious. There is no need to go far for example – recently banks blocked all accounts of a British businessman due to several transactions on LocalBitcoins. All transactions on the platform occur among verified users, but banks, nevertheless, have classified these transactions as suspicious.
From all of the above, it can be concluded that laundering funds using cryptocurrencies is difficult, but possible. Therefore, this method attracts scammers. However, due to the conditions of the financial policy in force in Western countries, criminals prefer to launder money through proven schemes with offshore and real estate.
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