Saturday, March 5, 2016

Ingenious Money Laundering

      Skyler: Are you telling me you make $7,125,000 a year?
      Walter: Seven and a half even, before expenses.
Last night, I rewatched the Problem Dog episode of Breaking Bad where Skyler and Walter White discover the challenges of laundering $274,000, every two weeks, through their newly purchased carwash.

About ten years ago, I put together an anti-money laundering (AML) compliance guide for a text message payments startup that I was raising funding for. As I read through AML case studies, published by the Treasury Department's Office of Comptroller of the Currency, one stuck out in my mind. A cartel would smuggle cocaine from Columbia into the United States. The trick was getting the money back to Columbia. The cartel's solution was brilliant. They bought gold, with the proceeds from the cocaine, and cast the gold into simple hardware tools like hammers and wrenches. Then, the money launderers finished the gold with silver colored paint to look like normal tools and shipped the wares back to Columbia. After all, who's going to question the export of everyday hardware tools?

Update: After reviewing my previous blog post, from earlier today, it dawned on me that Amazon Fulfillment Services might be a great way to launder money. Seriously... who's paying almost $20,000 for bar soap?

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