Those of us who do AML for a living can sometimes focus on the big stories – the laundering of billions by corrupt PEPs, the emptying of state coffers by oligarchs, the earning of untold wealth by drug barons. But sometimes simple is best, requiring only determination and people with time on their hands (but sadly, in this case, not much brain in their heads).
Greater Manchester Police are celebrating a successful outcome to Operation Speedway, which targeted an organised crime gang committing robberies on cash delivery vans in Cheetham Hill and Broughton. [I spotted the story because my mum was born in Broughton and I like to keep an eye on the place.] Between August 2016 and June 2017 the gang robbed ten vans making cash deliveries to ATMs in banks and shops, often threatening staff with machetes before making off on stolen motorbikes with, as Harry Enfield would have it, loadsamoney. And then they set about laundering it – and here they came unstuck.
As the cash had been dye-stained by security devices during the course of the robberies, the gang had to use machines rather than people and so they visited nearly fifty betting shops, depositing the dirty (in both senses) cash in fixed-odds betting machines and generating credit slips which they then exchanged for clean banknotes. It worked for a while, but one day a cashier in a betting shop did not have enough cash to pay out against the credit slip and suggested that the player (aka robber) open an online account. The player/robber started filling in an application form but then thought better of it – and left the part-completed form behind with his fingerprints and a phone number on it.
On 4 May 2018, the ringleader Dario Eastcroft was jailed for twelve years for robbery and money laundering, and sixteen other men received sentences totalling 112 years. It’s worth remembering that laundering is done at all levels, from the most sophisticated to the least complicated – you can bet on it.