Saturday, August 14, 2010

On E-Money Laundering

The internet has been a herald of convenience as a massive database of information. It has changed the way we communicate, find jobs, transact business, and enjoy our free time. It has also changed the way that crimes could be committed.

Online gambling, for example, could be used by criminals for money laundering. All that is required is to deposit the illegal funds in an online gambling account and then make a small wager to appear as a legitimate player. After several games, the money, now composed of both the illegal funds and the winnings, is withdrawn and passed off as a regular gambling transaction. The money could even be left deposited in the online gambling account while awaiting transfer to one offshore.

The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 offers no protection in this respect, given that the state of the law today does not include gambling establishments, let alone online gambling accounts, among those that may be legally inquired into. Criminals are therefore able to utilize the service to cleverly hide their illegal proceeds from the authorities and use it to perpetuate their offense. Thus, not only do they get to enjoy the fruits of their criminal labor, they have also possibly secured funding for the next illegal activity lined up. This is yet another case where technology is being used to circumvent the law and where the law so miserable fails to catch up with technology.

The internet is a great many things. Being a criminal’s playpen, included.

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