The most successful criminal enterprise imaginable will be borderline useless if it does not generate capital. Those engaged in human trafficking, drug trafficking and even intimidation rackets need a way to take the money that they steal or earn in an illegal fashion and turn it into seemingly legitimate revenue.
Otherwise, all the cash that they have on hand will do very little other than make them look like criminals. People generally cannot buy newer vehicles or real estate with cash. They need to be able to use financial accounts for those bigger purchases.
Money laundering involves making illicit funds appear to be legally-acquired revenue. Even if you don’t play a direct role in a criminal enterprise, if you work in one of the two professions below, you may be at elevated risk of money laundering allegations.
It will surprise very few people to learn that financial professionals like bankers are among those who face the most scrutiny for money laundering. If you frequently bend or break the rules that apply to financial professionals, federal investigators or even your employer may begin to suspect you of involvement in a money-laundering scheme.
For example, allowing people to deposit more than $10,000 in cash without requiring the appropriate paperwork or guiding them through a way to make the deposit without doing the paperwork might make your actions seem suspect to those trying to stop money laundering.
Maybe you started a small corner shop in a neighborhood that was previously a food desert. Perhaps you have taken over managing a grocery store.
If your business allows people to purchase prepaid credit/debit cards or to send wire transfers, you could find yourself implicated in a money-laundering scheme. Especially if you have the same customers coming in repeatedly to send wires using cash or to convert a stack of $20 bills into a prepaid credit card, it may be reason to suspect people involved of money laundering efforts and a criminal source of their cash.
Proving that you were not aware of someone else’s criminal activity and were simply doing your job can be one way to fight back against white-collar criminal accusations like money laundering charges.