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Top 5 Money Laundering Facts

VO: Chris Masson
Script written by Sean Newman There's a lot of dirty money out there, and an entire underground industry dedicated to scrubbing it clean. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we're counting down the 5 most interesting facts about the illegal, yet tantalizing world of money laundering. Special thanks to our user Christo for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Sean Newman

Top 5 Facts about Money Laundering


There’s a lot of dirty money out there, and an entire underground industry dedicated to scrubbing it clean. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we’re counting down the 5 most interesting facts about the illegal, yet tantalizing world of money laundering.

#5: Money Laundering Is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Okay, we lied—the three main steps of money laundering are a little more complex than that. The first, and most risky stage of laundering involves placing dirty money in a financial system. It may come as no surprise that depositing a million unmarked bills into your neighborhood bank may raise some red flags, so this takes some creativity—more on that later. Next comes layering, where the launderer hides their tracks through an intricate series of techniques that obscure the money’s history in the event of an audit. Finally comes the fun part: the integration stage, where dirty money has been scrubbed clean and may be used to purchase all the artwork, fancy cars, and exotic furs you would like—or whatever criminals are spending money on these days.

#4: There Are Multiple Placement Strategies

Our personal favorite is the blending of funds, or the Walter White, as we like to call it. This strategy involves purchasing a business, and subtly blending illegal funds in the daily balance sheet over a long period of time. Another popular placement strategy is smurfing; where “smurfs,” as they’re called, make deposits in multiple accounts to avoid suspicion—blue face paint optional. Finally, there’s bank complicity, where crooked bankers do all the work for you; making the dirty money legitimate through a series of financial gymnastics. Placement strategies are constantly evolving, making the detection of dirtymoney a continuous struggle for officials trying to stop it.

#3: Money Laundering Is a Huge Problem for Our Economy

By nature of its secrecy, it’s difficult to know how much money exactly is being illegally laundered, but the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime estimates anywhere from $800 billion to $2 trillion U.S. dollars enters the world economy on a yearly basis. To put that in perspective, that’s up to 4 times the revenue of Walmart, the world’s largest corporation. On multiple occasions, high profile companies and individuals such as FIFA and Vladimir Putin have been accused of involvement in laundering schemes, suggesting that the rabbit hole may go even deeper than we’d expect.

#2: Money Laundering May Be Just a Few Clicks Away

It’s true! You can earn $10,000 a month working from home! All you need to do is transfer money from individual to individual without asking any questions. If this sounds a lot like money laundering… well, that’s because it is. Ignorance is rarely bliss in these kinds of Internet scams. People who get caught up in onlinemoney laundering schemes may be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they didn’t take time to ask reasonable questions about the propositions. The moral of the story is if something sounds like it’s too good to be true, then that’s probably the case.

#1: Digital Currencies Are Likely the Future of Laundering

Laundering techniques are constantly evolving and the rise of digital technology has ensured this to be especially true. In 2009, Bitcoin was introduced and gave widespread attention to digital currency for the first time in history. What differentiates Bitcoin from your typical online transactions is it has no centralized authority. If a drug lord was laundering money in an offshore account, all you need to do is find the offshore account; while Bitcoins, on the other hand, have numerous miners, or freelance accountants if you will, handling the necessary day to day computations. Nonetheless, authorities are continuously finding new, and innovative ways to crack down on dirty money.

So how far down the rabbit hole does money-laundering go? Would Heisenberg still be able to sell meth in the age of Bitcoin? For more make-it-rain Top 10s and evasive Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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