The article under consideration dwells upon cybercrime and a particular case of digital money laundering. The author reveals some details of the investigation concerning Western Express International Inc. The investigation started with a complaint about the unauthorized use of a credit card. The card was used to buy some product from an online retailer (with a Manhattan shipment address).
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Western Express claimed to be a digital currency exchanger while it turned out to be a money transmitter, as well as a check casher, providing its services to people who were based in Eastern Europe but earned money in the USA. The investigation revealed that the company did not have the necessary license and, hence, could not transmit money to other countries. The investigation included the analysis of computer records, chat messages, paper documents, web postings, as well as cell phone data.
One of the most striking findings was associated with the clients of the company and their ways of making money. The vast majority of clients of the company were identity thieves and cybercriminals. The result of the investigation was the indictment of Western Express and a number of the company’s clients for several charges including stolen credit card data trafficking and money laundering.
The details of the investigation are provided to unveil some of the essential peculiarities of modern digital money laundering. For instance, the products paid through the system were not shipped to the master identity but to a recruited person who resents it to a buyer (in the majority of cases, to another country). Egold was used for the reselling process. It is stressed that cybercriminals, Ponzi schemers, and child pornographers preferred Egold that was one of the pioneers in the sphere of digital currency.
The author emphasizes that the case is an illustration of the importance of money transmitting regulations. The company did not care about the clients’ identities and ways of gaining money, which makes it a facilitator of cybercrime. It was found that $35 million flowed through the company, and $2 million proved to be the proceeds of criminal activities. The author states that digital money laundering involves several layers and organizations. More importantly, it is global and should be treated accordingly.
The author adds that cybercriminals can be detected and, eventually pleaded guilty. For instance, some of the clients of Western Express (Russian, Ukrainian and Moldovan nationals) were found, captured in other countries, and extradited to the USA where they were convicted. The success of the investigation of Western Express’ operations and crimes shows that cybercrime can and should be addressed.
The author claims that cybercriminals attack individuals and organizations, which makes it crucial for everyone to focus on data protection. At that, the author states that organizations with their extensive funds (not to mention individuals) are still vulnerable since cybercriminals find new ways to steal data and use the information for profit. Hence, cybersecurity systems are only a part of the solution. It is noted that law enforcement agencies are responsible for developing teams of high-profile investigators prosecutors and analysts focusing on cybercrime.
Training and development (involving the discussion of particular cases) are crucial. Finally, financial institutions are also responsible for preventing, as well as detecting, cybercrime. They should try to ensure that financial wires are safe and legal. The case of Western Express unveils many schemes used by cybercriminals as well as ways to detect criminal activity in the sphere of digital money.