U.S. and European authorities just announced they have dismantled “Avalanche,” a worldwide computer network that criminals have used to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from online banking customers around the world. The network enabled crime networks to send various types of spam and malicious software to banking customers who would open these messages and have their computers become infected with malware. The malware installed would then allow criminals to steal the bank account emails and passwords. With this information the criminals were able to transfer money from the victims’ accounts to various other worldwide accounts. According to Europol, over 1 million emails were sent out. This happened in the U.S. and 180 other countries.
Europol says it spent four years investigating the case with the help of the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, and ESET, a global security company based out of San Diego. ECET has been reportedly helping law enforcement for years.
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering in its simplest definition is the act of making money that comes from one source look like it comes from another source. In practice, criminals are trying to disguise the origins of money obtained through illegal activities so it looks like it was obtained from legal sources. It happens in every country in the world. Typically, a single money laundering scheme involves transferring money through several countries in order to hide its origins.
Money Laundering in California
There are two statutes that address money laundering in California:
1) Penal Code § 186.10, which sets the broad definition for money laundering. It covers money that is related to any kind of crime.
2) Health & Safety Code § 11370.9, which only deals with money earned from drugs.
Both forms of money laundering are wobblers in California, meaning they can be either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the specific circumstances of the case. A money laundering conviction is therefore punishable by one to four years imprisonment and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $250,000.
Money laundering can be a difficult thing to prove. Some of the legal defenses available include that:
- You lacked criminal intent or the knowledge that you were laundering money;
- The amount of money in question did not meet the statutory minimum amount required for a money laundering conviction
- You lawfully own the money and accounts in question.
San Diego White Collar Crimes and Criminal Defense Attorney
Defending a white collar crime is different from building a defense for someone charged with a violent crime, but is equally complex and important. The attorneys at the Law Offices of David M. Boertje know how to build a defense for white collar cases, including cases of tax evasion, theft, and money laundering. We understand that sometimes good citizens make an error in judgment. If you have been arrested or charged with money laundering or any white collar crime, contact our law offices today. We will fight for you.