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How does a U.S. citizen report possible money laundering?

By Bryan


Suspected money laundering should be reported to the National Crime Agency (NCA). To contact the NCA, you must tell your nominated officer (someone who is trained in your business to evaluate evidence) who will then decide if the issue needs to be reported to the NCA.

The NCA will look at the transactions and business, and assess whether money laundering activities are being undertaken.

To learn more about the NCA’s financial intelligence activities, contact the Suspicious Activity Reportsline.

How to identify and report money laundering

Money laundering is the process of hiding the origins of ‘dirty’ and often illegally obtained money, potentially by using it as part of a legitimate transaction. If a business is found to be laundering money, the consequences can be severe.

It’s important to have a thorough understanding of what this kind of fraud is, plus how to recognize it and report it to authorities.

Understand the essential parts of detecting and reporting money laundering can help you and your business avoid becoming a victim of fraud.


There are three main steps for identifying and reporting money laundering:

Assess a client and their transactions: are they suspicious or unusual?
Contact your business’s nominated officer with your concerns.
They will contact the National Crime Agency with their evaluation.

Money laundering is a way to disguise ‘dirty’ money, usually because it has a link to criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, smuggling, insider trading, or tax evasion.

Sometimes, people will launder legally gained money to hide their true wealth for personal reasons, such as avoiding paying high tax, or if they are getting divorced and want to avoid their ex-spouse gaining access to the funds.

Whatever the reason, money laundering is illegal and can have a massive negative impact on the business that is victim to the scheme. Money laundering is broadly made up of three steps:

PLACEMENTPhysically moving the money from the source and placing it into circulation.
LAYERINGMaking the source of the funds difficult to detect.
INTEGRATIONThe money is used in place of a normal business transaction, such as fronting a company or dealing in large transaction sales, such as property.

Technologies have been developed that can help to reduce the risk of money laundering, thanks to the rise of internet banking and the reduction of large cash-in-hand transactions. However, there are traditional methods that can be useful.

Primarily, identifying money laundering may rely on following your instinct and using your business knowledge to recognize suspicious behavior.

One of the first steps is to recognize a client is being suspicious or secretive. The cash transaction amount itself can also provide cause for concern. Ask yourself the following questions:

Are they avoiding meeting you face-to-face, or based far away from your business?
Do they have unusual instructions or ask you to do something your business doesn’t have expertise in?
Is the transaction unusually large or made frequently?
Are the transactions complicated to process?
Do they pay cash where an electronic transaction is more common?
Is the client trying to take an unusual risk, where failure or loss of money is a strong possibility?
These are not definitive ways to identify money laundering, but they may give you some indication that suspicious activity is occurring.

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