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How do money laundering operations work to clean dirty money?


How Money Laundering Works to Clean Dirty Money

Money laundering is a big problem these days. It’s when people try to make money that came from illegal stuff look like it came from legal stuff instead. There’s lots of ways crooks do this to try and trick the cops and the IRS. Let’s break it down so you can understand how it works.
The main goal is to take “dirty” money from bad stuff like selling drugs, and make it look “clean” so it seems like it came from a real business and they can spend it without getting caught. There’s usually 3 steps they use:


This is when they first get the dirty money and have to put it into the system so it can get cleaned. But they can’t just walk into a bank with a million dollars in cash and deposit it – that would look hella suspicious! So they break it up into smaller chunks first.
They’ll make lots of deposits over time under $10,000. Big deposits over 10k have to get reported to the government, so they avoid that. Or they’ll buy expensive stuff like cars, boats, and houses with the cash money. Then they can sell that stuff later and it looks more legit.
They also put it into businesses that get paid lots in cash like casinos, bars, strip clubs, and laundromats (that’s where the name comes from lol). These places already deal with so much cash that it doesn’t look weird when the crooks add more dirty money to the mix.


This is my favorite part, it’s real sneaky! The money is already in the system now, but they have to cover the tracks back to the original crime.
So they’ll transfer it around a bunch between a maze of bank accounts, businesses, offshore shell companies, and fake investments. There’s so many complex transactions that the original source gets lost.
They’ll also buy real estate, art, gold, and stuff like that in different names, so the money is now tied up in assets instead of bank accounts. Then they can resell it later and say they made profits off investing – boom the money is clean!
Some other classic layering moves:
Wire transfers between foreign banks
Paying “invoices” from fake offshore companies they control
Exchanging cash for casino chips and back again
Buying winning lottery tickets and getting paid the “winnings”
Mixing clean money with the dirty money
Using cryptocurrency exchanges and digital wallets
The more confusing they can make it, the better! Auditors will never be able to connect the dots.


This is the end game – time to bring the money back to use it! Now the funds look like they came from legitimate sources like businesses, investments, and loans.
At this point the crooks can spend the integrated money freely on houses, vacations, bling, or whatever they want. Maybe they’ll start some real businesses as a front to make even more.
As long as they pay taxes on it, the IRS doesn’t care where it came from. And if they get asked, they can just show the paperwork trail and be like “see, totally legit!”
Some examples:
They’ll get paid “salaries” from shell companies
Take out “loans” from foreign banks backed by their assets
Sell the assets they bought and keep the profits
Claim gambling winnings
Run it through real businesses like car washes and night clubs
And just like that – dirty money is cleaned and ready to use! Pretty crazy right?

How to Spot Money Laundering

If you work at a bank or business, you gotta keep an eye out for shady stuff that might be money laundering. Here’s some red flags to watch for:
Customer makes lots of big cash deposits below $10,000
Wires big money to countries known for money laundering like Panama
Company has way more revenue than their business would normally bring in
Person makes constant bank transactions that don’t match their job
Buys expensive assets for unreasonable prices in cash
Makes very complex business transactions for no clear reason
Shell companies with hidden owners do business transactions
Company is located in a foreign tax haven
Business doesn’t really sell anything or have many customers
There’s fancy computer programs that try to detect this stuff too and alert the authorities. But human eyes can still catch things the computers miss! So stay vigilant.

Consequences of Money Laundering

These crooks gotta be sneaky, because if they get caught it’s bad news:
Up to 20 years in federal prison for each offense
Fines of $500,000 or more
Forfeit all money and property involved
Get charged with the original crime too
The government does not play around with money laundering. They’ll hit you with so many felonies your grandkids will still be on probation.
It also hurts the economy when billions of dirty dollars get laundered each year. So the IRS, FBI, and FinCEN are all trying to crack down hard.
New banking rules like “Know Your Customer” and extra reporting requirements make it way harder to get away with now too.
So to all you wannabe Tony Sopranos out there – find a better way to make some cash! Crime doesn’t pay.
Well there you have it – now you know all about how money laundering works to clean dirty money and make it look legit. Pretty crazy schemes huh?
Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m always happy to gab about this kinda stuff. And remember – crime doesn’t pay!

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Guerline Menard
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Article by: Johnny Moneybags


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