The Week Of: March 16, 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.
Coronavirus scams show fraudsters know no limits
If you thought a global pandemic in which thousands have died would be off limits to scammers and fraudsters, think again.
According to security expert Brian Krebs, the enormous number of people being laid off from work due to the coronavirus outbreak has opened up a new pool of unwitting money mules for cybercrooks.
One example Krebs details is the website of a purported charity that claims to fund virus-related relief efforts around the world. After being recruited online, “employees” are given menial tasks to perform, then asked to process an alleged donation:
What happens next is the employee then receives an electronic transfer of money into his bank account, is asked to withdraw the cash, and to keep 150 Canadian dollars for himself. He’s then instructed to take the remainder of the funds to a Bitcoin ATM and scan an emailed QR code with his mobile phone. This causes the cash he deposits into the Bitcoin ATM to be sent in an irreversible transaction to a Bitcoin wallet controlled by the scammers.
The money set aside in the employee’s account is then inevitably stolen from other hacked bank accounts.
Although this particular example is a Canada-based laundering scam, Krebs warns that nearly identical scams are happening in America as well. U.S. Attorney’s Offices are aware of the issue and are coordinating with state law enforcement to combat scammers taking advantage of the pandemic.
As always, if something sounds too good to be true—like an easy, work-from-home-job offered by unknown actors—it probably is.
UK budget to include tax to combat money laundering
The UK will impose a new tax on financial services firms to help fund the fight against financial crimes. Groups subject to the tax include banks, accountants, estate agents, and solicitors.
The aim of the annual £100 million levy is to “supplement public sector funding and [allow] law enforcement agencies…to hire additional financial investigators and supply them with new technology.”
The National Crime Agency estimates that money laundering costs the UK economy £100bn a year.
Canada tightens crypto regulations alongside AML/CTF overhaul
Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Centre (FINTRAC) recently announced new anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regulations in its 2020-21 Departmental Plan.
The regulations update guidelines for virtual currencies, including:
- expanding a regulatory mandate regarding FINTRAC’s coverage of offshore crypto companies;
- implementing new reporting requirements passed in 2019 that addressed crypto companies; and
- responding to FATF directives that noted Canada’s crypto companies were particularly vulnerable to AML/CTF violations.