Where Does Money Laundering Happen Most?

State prosecutors aggressively target small-scale money launderers.

International authorities have cracked down on money laundering since 9/11. However, the practice, which is basically converting stolen or otherwise illicit funds into legitimate funds, is still common in a few far-flung and/or chaotic countries, such as Mozambique, Laos, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Liberia, and Haiti. International drug lords, terrorists, and other large-scale evildoers often launder millions of dollars in such places.

Domestic money laundering is on a much smaller scale. Malefactors often launder a few thousand dollars or even a few hundred dollars. These small-scale incidents are not under a prosecutor’s radar. Authorities aggressively investigate and prosecute such actions. They especially scrutinize the areas listed below. If you get caught in a money laundering investigation, a Norcross criminal defense lawyer can reduce or eliminate the harsh direct and indirect consequences of a money laundering conviction.

Prepaid Debit Cards

Anyone can use a wad of bills to buy a gift card or prepaid debit card at any store in Georgia. Non-retail prepaid debit card money laundering is even more common. Honest Hank buys a $500 prepaid debit card and sells it to Drug Dealer Derek.

Retail debit card money laundering is almost always a federal offense. Most retail outlets, even small ones in small towns, are owned by out-of-state holding companies. State prosecutors usually handle post-retail debit card money laundering.

Frequently, police arrest not-so-Honest Hank for an unrelated offense. Then, in exchange for leniency, Hank rolls over on Derek. Search and arrest warrants that over-rely on the uncorroborated testimony of a paid informant are presumptively unreliable in Georgia. Even if the information Hank provided is accurate, it could still be legally unreliable.


Until recently, casinos were bigger money launderers than debit cards. Frequently, Drug Dealer Derek went into a casino, bought about $5,000 in chips, played a hand or two of blackjack, and cashed out. Now, many larger casinos no longer accept cash payments.

However, smaller casinos often do not have noncash transaction rules. Such money laundering currently is not a problem in Georgia, where casinos, horse racing, and pretty much all other gambling are illegal.

If Drug Dealer Derek crossed state lines to launder money at a casino and is charged with money laundering in state court, a Norcross criminal defense lawyer could raise a jurisdictional objection. Usually, Georgia judges only have jurisdiction over offenses that occur entirely within Georgia.

Law Firms

Many attorneys, especially criminal defense attorneys, accept large cash payments. They usually deposit this money into a trust account. Technically, client trust accounts are for legal expenses, such as hiring expert witnesses. But the law firm could easily use this money for other purposes or refund it to the client.

Generally, prosecutors charge these organizations not with money laundering but with a failure to maintain proper records. Prosecutors love stressing technicalities. These technicalities are easier to prove and avoid the right-or-wrong debate that alienates many jurors.

Connect With a Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Officials aggressively prosecute money laundering. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Norcross, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. Virtual and jail visits are available.