How Cybercriminals Are Operationalizing Money Laundering and What to Do About It

It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the amount of money that’s laundered globally, but conservative estimates put it at anywhere from $800 million to $2 trillion, according to the United Nations’ Office on Drug and Crimes — and that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a crime that, in turn, fuels some of the world’s most heinous criminal activities. It’s also a tactic used by cybercriminals to help try to cover up the profits they’re making from things like wide-scale ransomware attacks. The rise of cryptocurrency also has made it easier for them to evade detection.

Financial institutions, cryptocurrency companies, and other organizations face increasing fines — sometimes ranging in the millions and billions of dollars — for failure to root out money laundering as government agencies and regulators worldwide seek to crack down on this scourge.

Here’s the bad news as we look toward 2023: Automation is going to make the problem worse. We will see the rise of money laundering-as-a-service. But the silver lining is there are ways to stem the tide — and collaboratively reduce bad actors’ ability to do so.

The Crypto-Money Laundering Connection

A preferred tactic by cybercriminal organizations looking to grow their ranks is to use what are known as money mules. These are individuals who are brought in to help launder money — sometimes, unknowingly. They’re often lured in under false pretenses and promises of legitimate jobs, only to discover that “job” is to help launder the profits from

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