Latest Case Scenario
Criminals purported themselves as single and successful businessperson engaged in overseas trading business who are looking for a friend via Internet chat forum or online dating website. They would then keep close communication with victims via the Internet chat forum and slowly earn their trust over time. Sometimes, photographs may also be exchanged. After the criminals established the illusion of a genuine and intimate relationship with victims, they would begin asking victims to assist them in receiving/transferring remittances purportedly related to their business. In fact, the remittances were crime proceeds and victims were being exploited as a stooge for money laundering.
If you begin communication with a person with a view to a possible close relationship via Internet, remain cautious even if the relationship seems to be progressing very well. You should always treat any requests for money remittances as highly suspicious.
How does it work?
Put it simply, “money laundering” covers all kinds of methods used to change the identity of illegally obtained money (i.e. crime proceeds) so that it appears to have originated from a legitimate source.
A money laundering scheme will therefore usually involve a combination of several different techniques and vehicles, which may not necessarily involve the conventional financial sector.
The techniques for laundering funds vary considerably and are often highly intricate.
In Hong Kong, crime proceeds are generated from various illegal activities. They can be derived from drug trafficking, smuggling, illegal gambling, bookmaking, blackmail, extortion, loan sharking, tax evasion, controlling prostitution, corruption, robbery, theft, fraud, copyright infringement, insider dealing and market manipulation.
When crime proceeds are laundered, criminals would then be able to use the money without being linked easily to the criminal activities from which the money was originated.
What is our advice?
- Anti-money laundering is everyone’s responsibility. Do not deal with it;
- When you come across any property, which you know or suspect to be crime proceeds, you should make a suspicious transaction report (STR) to the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit (JFIU); and
- Whilst there is no prescribed manner of reporting, it is advisable to make STRs in writing. A standard form has been designed to assist individuals in making STRs. The form can be downloaded from the JFIU website (http://www.jfiu.gov.hk/).