What Constitutes Federal Money Laundering?

Posted on in Money Laundering

IL defense lawyerFor those unaware, money laundering is a crime categorized as a federal white-collar offense involving the process of disguising the proceeds of illegal activity as legitimate money and involving individuals in multiple states or countries. Money laundering is taken very seriously by law enforcement authorities and can carry severe criminal penalties like fines, significant prison time, and asset forfeiture. If you have been charged with money laundering, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to fight these charges.

Everything You Need to Know About Federal Money Laundering

When it comes to federal money laundering, the core elements of the offense involve using the financial system to conceal the illegal source of funds. Specifically, federal money laundering often consists of a series of transactions designed to make it appear that funds are from a legitimate source when in reality, the funds come from criminal activities such as drug trafficking, fraud, or other illegal activity.

Federal money laundering can involve a wide variety of financial transactions, including structuring transactions in a way that avoids triggering financial reporting requirements, using financial institutions in different jurisdictions to transfer funds, buying and selling high-value items such as real estate or jewelry with illegal proceeds, and using cash to buy assets or to fund businesses, and more.


b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-crimes-lawyer.jpgMoney laundering is, simply put, the illegal act of making “dirty” money appear “clean.” Generally, this involves making illegally-obtained money, such as profits from selling illicit drugs, look like it came from a legitimate source. Money laundering schemes are growing increasingly sophisticated and hard to detect. With the rise of online and international trade, it is easier than ever for unscrupulous actors to filter dirty money through legitimate businesses. If you own a business, it is important that you keep an eye out for any signs that someone is using your company to launder their illicit funds. Even if you are doing everything in your power to run your business in a legal and ethical manner, all it takes is one criminal to take advantage of you and you could find yourself facing federal charges. If you suspect that your business is being used for money laundering, do not wait to hear from the FBI - call an attorney immediately and follow their advice.

What Are Some Clues That Someone is Laundering Money Through My Company?

The key is to watch for patterns over time. While the presence of one of these signs from time to time could be perfectly innocent, if you start noticing more than one sign or a repetitive pattern of activity, it might be time to talk to a lawyer. Red flags may include: 

  • Overpricing - Look out for instances where it appears that a customer paid way too much for a single item. This is very common for those who run online stores that sell physical items, like jewelry or art. If it suddenly appears that some of your goods are fetching prices far over market value, it could be a sign of money laundering. 


Chicago federal criminal defense lawyerFederal money laundering charges can result in years of prison time. Financial crimes are taken very seriously by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. If you are up against charges for money laundering, building a strong defense is your top priority right now. Even after any judicially-imposed penalties have been completed, you could be left a felon. Being a felon closes doors - it may be extremely difficult to find the type of job you want or desirable housing. There are a number of possible defense strategies. The particular strategy your lawyer will use is heavily dependent on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. After assessing your case, your attorney will design a defense that is most likely to work well for you. 

What Are Some Defense Strategies for Money Laundering?

There are a number of strategies your lawyer may want to use, some specific to money laundering, and others more general. You may have a good defense that is not listed here, so make sure to speak with an attorney to find out whether another defense could apply to your situation. Some defense strategies for money laundering include: 

  • Legitimate source of funds - If there is a way to show that you were receiving the funds that you allegedly laundered from a legitimate source, this can be a very strong defense to money laundering. When it succeeds, the case can be dismissed or you could be acquitted at trial. 
  • Lack of knowledge - It sometimes happens that someone becomes tangled up in a money-laundering operation without realizing it. This could happen when an innocent person goes into business with a corrupt individual, who launders money without his partners knowing about it. 
  • Coercion or duress - If you were somehow forced into participating in a money-laundering scheme, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Mere social or familial pressure cannot establish this defense, nor can a need for money. However, if you were threatened or blackmailed into participating, you may have this type of case. 
  • Insufficient evidence - The government has the burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were accepting illegal funds and concealing them to make them appear legitimate. It will also need to be shown that you did so with a certain level of intent. 

In some cases, taking a plea bargain may ultimately be the best option. However, if your lawyer believes that you do have a very strong defense, they may suggest raising it at trial. In rare cases, charges have been dismissed before reaching the trial stage of the criminal justice procedure.


Chicago IL federal crime defense attorneyNot all crimes that take place are crimes of violence. Some crimes can be just as destructive without directly causing any physical harm to people. Many of these crimes are related to finance or technology and are broadly referred to as white collar crimes. Now, more than ever, white collar crimes are easier to commit as technology advances further, and in the United States, a variety of task forces and federal agencies investigate and prosecute them. One type of white collar crime that is commonly associated with both low-level and high-profile crime is called money laundering.

What is Money Laundering?

In general, money laundering occurs when large amounts of money that are obtained through criminal activity are handled in a way that makes the money look as if it came from a legal source. In other words, money laundering takes “dirty” money and makes it “clean.” Many times, money laundering is a result of other criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or manufacturing. Most of these illegal businesses operate with cash, but keeping thousands and sometimes millions of dollars on hand is inefficient. Money laundering allows criminals to deposit that money into a legitimate financial institution without it looking suspicious.

How Does Money Laundering Take Place?

Many small-scale money laundering operations take place throughout the United States. For example, a criminal drug organization may own a restaurant or barbershop that they use to funnel money through. The company may report more than what they actually bring in each night at the restaurant or barbershop so they can include some of the “dirty” or criminal money in the bank deposit for the legitimate business. Once all of the money has been deposited, the criminals are free to withdraw the money at any time, without fear of it being traced back as illegal cash.


Consequences of Money Laundering

Posted on in Money Laundering

Chicago federal crimes attorney, Cook County federal crimes attorney, criminal activity, federal crime, Money LaunderingMoney laundering is a serious crime that involves the misuse of finances from certain properties. There are several ways that money laundering can occur, and this act can lead to unwanted consequences for both the person who committed the crime and the person affected by the crime.

What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is the act by which a person knowingly disguises proceeds of criminal conduct by making them appear to have been acquired from a legitimate source.

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