Money laundering is often portrayed as a glamorous crime committed by large cartels that live life in the fast lane and surround themselves with the most exclusive luxuries. To some extent this is true. However, a person does not necessarily have to be a top-ranking crime boss to go to federal prison for laundering money. That’s why it’s critical to reach out to a Miami money laundering lawyer immediately after being charged with this type of federal crime.
Defined as the process through which criminal proceeds are reintegrated into the mainstream financial system, money laundering occurs in three stages. Each stage involves multiple individuals, each of whom may face federal charges. The three stages of money laundering are:
Placement of illegal funds
The placement stage is first in the money laundering process. It is also the point at which the criminals are most vulnerable to their activities being detected. Floridians who engage in illegal activity for financial gain cannot simply deposit all they’re money into the bank as banking institutions have reporting requirements that alert the federal government of suspicious transactions. Therefore, money launderers must use alternative and sometimes creative means of separating the illicit proceeds from the original illegal activity.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
One of the most straightforward ways of placing money is by smurfing, also known as structuring. Because banking institutions have training and reporting requirements in place to alert banks and government agencies of suspiciously large or unexplained transactions. To avoid detection, money launderers divide the money into smaller amounts and enlists the help of others to deposit the smaller amounts into different accounts across multiple banking institutions.
Methods of layering dirty money
In the layering stage of the money laundering process, the criminals make several complex transactions to obscure the money trail. Tactics perpetrators often use to layer transactions include:
- cryptocurrency transactions
- smuggling cash across borders
- purchasing assets
- blending with other money
- working with complicit banking institutions
Integrating laundered money into the general money supply
During the final stage of money laundering, the obscured dirty money is reintegrated back into the money supply and returned to the party who originally obtained the money illegally. At this point, the money may be spent as usual, used to pay gambling or credit card debts, or even invested in a real estate purchase.
Cryptocurrency and money laundering
The anonymity of cryptocurrency has attracted the underground economy since its inception. People who make money from illegal activity flocked to the work of cryptocurrency as a means of laundering their illegal proceeds. Money launderers purchase cryptocurrency through an on-onr exchange and are then able to make trades with the burial currency to further obscure the money’s illegal origins. The money may be taken out of the crypto space by using bitcoin to make purchases or by exchanging the virtual coins back to standard currency.
Bulk currency smuggling
Some foreign countries have very loose bank reporting regulations. Therefore, money launderers are drawn to these destinations for the purpose of making bank deposits that would otherwise trigger red flags in the U.S. To get the money into these countries, criminals will employ money mules, or people who physically smuggle the money into the foreign country, whether it is deposited after arrival.
People in Miami who launder money sometimes find it easier to purchase expensive items in cash versus attempting to deposit the money into bank accounts, purchasing cryptocurrency, or having the money physically transported to another country and converted to a different currency. Jewelry, exotic cars, and rare heirlooms sold by private sellers can sometimes provide an adequate cover for those who are looking to launder dirty money.
Innocent people are sometimes caught in the middle
Although people who run criminal organizations are typically aware of the various stages of money laundering as they take place, the middlemen money launderers seek out to assist with transactions may not be fully aware that a crime is taking place. For example, an organization that launders money by opening a store may commonly funds and have a designated employee who makes bank deposits. A person’s family member may offer to deposit money into the person’s account in exchange for receiving a certain amount back. Someone’s friend may ask if he or she can deliver a package to a third party while on vacation. A person may unknowingly become involved in a money laundering scheme in a number of ways. However, the federal government may not be so discerning when investing people and initially bringing charges. Therefore, anyone in Miami who is arrested or even merely asked to come in for questioning regarding a money laundering investigation should immediately hudddle with a Fourt Lauderdale money laundering defense attorney.
A federal lawyer can be present during all interactions with federal investigators and ensure law enforcement officials respect the boundaries of the person’s constitutional rights. It is very normal to be nervous when facing questioning and federal criminal charges. A Miami money laundering attorney can help the accused interact with law enforcement in a manner that is less likely to lead to the individual making unnecessary self-incriminating statements. Individuals who are charged with money laundering and those who have been contacted by federal agents for questioning should call a Miami defense attorney to learn more about the implications of the investigation and criminal charges as well as receive trustworthy legal advice on the best way to proceed.