SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Money laundering is taking more of the focus of law enforcement but how is it changing, and why is it becoming more prevalent?
There are criminals who use money laundering as a way to secretly move large amounts of cash. Law enforcement and banks work together to put a stop to it and protect victims of fraud.
“If they can get that money into the banking system, and to do that they need to commit money laundering, they have to conceal it.” Nate Mendell, Acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts
Some of the most wanted criminals in the world have used money laundering to keep their illegal funds out of the public eye.
“All the drug trafficking cases we have, the scams we uncover, the embezzlements, the frauds, all involve money laundering.” Nate Mendell, Acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts
“Money laundering is a violation that touches all of our investigative programs from counterterrorism, white collar crime, drug trafficking, gang crimes.” Matt Fontaine, Supervisor Special Agent, FBI
The FBI field office in Springfield have special agents and intelligence analysts constantly working to detect and disrupt fraud and these money laundering schemes. They say its evolved over the years, and its largely due to technology.
“It has evolved in the types of ways it can be moved it can be converted, into either gift cards that wouldn’t be traceable, virtual currency that can be moved very quickly.” Matt Fontaine, Supervisor Special Agent, FBI
Fontaine said their responsibilities includes collecting evidence to build an investigation, and then the prosecutors take it from there. They’ve seen “money mule” transactions as high as the million dollar range.
“In drug trafficking on the national and international level, its been in the millions.” Matt Fontaine, Supervisor Special Agent, FBI
Communication with banks is key, since they are the ones that typically spot money laundering at the local level.
“The banks own anti-money laundering system generates a suspicious activity report and it calls it to our attention, and we uncover a criminal conspiracy.” Nate Mendell, Acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts
“Greenfield Savings Bank has a very robust software program that detects and give us clues what may and may not be a normal transaction.” Karen Cartier, Vice President of Compliance and Fraud Prevention for Greenfield Savings Bank
Cartier told the 22News I-Team the nature of this crime became even more apparent after 9/11.
“All banks have to have a system for looking at unusual transactions. After 9/11 it became very apparent that the financial system was a conduit for illegal funds.” Karen Cartier, Vice President of Compliance and Fraud Prevention for Greenfield Savings Bank
A new trend when it comes to fraud from the FBI. Fraudsters have been pawning people out of their money on social media, and dating and job recruitment sites. But through rigorous detective work, they’ve been able to get back people’s money.
“We are able to stop those transactions, return that money to the victims. That’s the goal so people should know just because they aren’t seeing prosecutions, doesn’t mean we aren’t working for them.” Matt Fontaine, Supervisor Special Agent, FBI
Penalties for money laundering can include up to 8 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.