The Week Of: February 24, 2020

This week’s news and stories of interest to the AML community. If you prefer a news roundup sent to you, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Wildlife cybercrime on the rise in ASEAN

Wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest global illegal trade after narcotics, counterfeiting of products and currency, and human trafficking, and is especially prevalent in Southeast Asia.

Coupled with a high mobile phone penetration and popularity of social media platforms, it is no surprise that wildlife-related cybercrime is on the rise in the ASEAN region.

According to The ASEAN Post, research from wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC found a total of 1,521 live animals for sale online on 12 Thailand-based Facebook groups in 2016; a follow-up in 2018 found that only 10 groups remained, but total membership had increased from 106,111 to 203,445. Approximately 200 species were offered for sale through the Facebook groups, including two that were considered critically endangered.

Read more at The ASEAN Post.

Tenants in seized property left in limbo in money laundering fallout

A report from the San Antonio Express-News profiles the innocent people who get caught in the middle of a scheme by others to launder illicit money.

The owner of a Mexican savings and loan, Rafael Olvera Amezcua, was accused of embezzling around $100 million from the S&L and using the money to buy real estate in the U.S. and Spain. As part of a settlement with depositors, he agreed to give up more than 80 pieces of real estate in Texas and Florida.

One of those pieces happened to be a home in North San Antonio that Cecilia Haynes signed to a three-year lease in 2018. After the settlement was made, “Haynes started receiving calls from a new management company demanding access to the house and wanting to rekey the locks.”

The Express-News says Haynes has been pestered by real estate agents who want to photograph the property and even had a potential buyer walk into the house as she sat at her computer in a bathrobe.

Although Haynes did not lose money in the scheme, the fallout has led to uncertainty in her living status as she now must schedule showings of the house for potential buyers and feels like her personal space has been invaded.

New Jersey lawmaker proposes crypto licensing bill

New Jersey Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez has introduced a bill that would require crypto firms to obtain a business license from the state in order to conduct business there.

The Digital Asset and Blockchain Technology Act would require applicants disclose their legal and fictitious names, any legal history, as well as terms and conditions.

Lopez says the aim of the Act is to establish a set of protections for consumers. “We must take steps to protect consumers looking to invest in cryptocurrency, while also allowing the sector to continue to develop and expand in New Jersey,” she said.