The money earned through criminal activity is as much of a liability as it is an asset. Those who operate or work for a large criminal enterprise will likely have large amounts of cash for which they can offer no legal explanation. Getting caught with a lot of cash can lead to the seizure of the money and possibly criminal charges.
Criminals are not able to use that money to make purchases of large items like homes, boats or vehicles without catching the attention of investigators. They also can’t make large or frequent deposits into a bank account without incurring both tax liability and scrutiny.
Reloadable gift cards affiliated with major credit card brands like Visa and MasterCard have become very popular in recent decades. They have many legitimate uses, but they can also be used by criminals as a way to launder money.
If your business sells gift cards, you should protect yourself
People with credit issues or low-income levels might use gift cards and other prepaid cards as a means of paying for bills when they don’t have a bank account. However, the mostly anonymous nature of gift cards or prepaid debit cards purchased with cash makes it easy for those with illegal revenue to game the system and hide the source of their money.
If your business sells gift cards or prepaid debit cards, you might eventually get caught up in a money-laundering investigation and could face serious white-collar criminal charges. Investigators may think that you received a kickback or at least turned a blind eye to obvious money laundering through your business.
Requiring identification from those purchasing large value gift cards or those who repeatedly purchase large amounts of gift cards can be one way to deter criminals from using your business as a way to launder money — and keep you from running into legal trouble of your own.