AML Conference admits that Money Launderers go high-tech

On March 15-17, 2010, the 15th Annual International Anti-Money Laundering Conference was held in Hollywood.

US Law enforcement officials who spoke at the event admitted that it was not easy to keep up with the changes in money laundering these days. This is because criminal organizations are early adopting new technologies. Mobile phones, prepaid cards, and online games are often used to illicit money over international borders.

For example, criminal gangs are increasingly using stored-value cards in order to move cash. These cards look and act like ATM or credit cards and they can be used all over the world. However, they require no bank account and can be activated online.

The legislation requires banks to report suspicious activity. Also, it requires those who enter the country to declare cash in excess of USD 10 000. But the cards are unregulated. Duncan Levin, an assistant U.S. attorney in New York, said: “We have made it very difficult for bad guys to walk into a bank with USD 200 000 in cash in a bag. But if you can transfer that money onto a card, you are staying a step ahead of us.”

A supervisory special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Deborah Morrisey, recently busted the money laundering arm of a Colombian drug cartel with operations in Miami. She said that, during 9 months, the criminal group moved more than USD 4 million using stored-value cards and operated undetected until discovered by an undercover investigator. She also said that concerns are growing about mobile phones that can be used as virtual bank accounts. For example, Apple’s iPhone allows users to transfer money between 2 PayPal accounts by bumping the handsets together.

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