Use of Plastic Cards in Money Laundering Schemes - What Financial Crime Investigators Need to Know

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January 18, 2018 : Online Webinar

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM New York Time, Eastern USA Time
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM London, UK Time

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Use of Plastic Cards in Money Laundering Schemes - What Financial Crime Investigators Need to Know


Fraud is rampant in the United States as criminals who once made their living selling narcotics and fencing stolen goods have found stealing credit cards and laundering money with prepaid cards as a much easier, safer and more lucrative way to earn a living.  Last year nearly 32 million Americans had their credit cards stolen and 12.7 million more individuals had their identities compromised. With more than $16B related to identity theft fraud and over $40B loaded on prepaid cards from narcotics, human smuggling, sex trafficking, identity theft, tax fraud and terrorist funding, it’s clear to see why criminals are drawn to plastic cards. 

Every day law enforcement agents around the world confiscate plastic cards.  Some are recognizable retail store gift cards, others legitimate looking credit and debit cards, and many more are hotel room keys and identity cards.  The reality is that when it comes to plastic cards, “what you see isn’t necessarily what you get”.  Criminals skim card information from unknowing consumers or buy stolen credit and debit card numbers on the Dark Web, and transfer them to other plastic cards like hotel room keys or even legitimate credit and bank debit cards.  This makes detection and interrogation nearly impossible. Since virtually any plastic card with a magnetic stripe can re-purposed as a credit, debit or prepaid card, recognizing the identity of the card and its associated value is critical to completing the investigation and thwarting the financial gains laundered by the criminals.

Prepaid and debit cards can access accounts with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that money can be moved electronically in a matter of seconds. Unlike a bundle of cash, it’s difficult to determine the value of a prepaid or debit card and because it’s time consuming, law enforcement will many times place the cards in evidence without any additional investigation.  Criminals understand and simply transfer money from the confiscated cards to another card once they or their accomplices have internet access. The issue is education.  The more law enforcement understands the problem, the more likely they are to take action to combat this growing and significant problem.


A 60 minute training session, jointly presented by ERAD President, Jack Williams and National Security for Florida Special Agent in Charge, John Tobon, to share industry perspectives, best practices, interdiction case studies and legal implications regarding payment card investigations. This presentation has been delivered through webinars, national law enforcement conferences and local training seminars.

Key Topics:

  • Payment card industry drivers effecting Identify theft, stolen credit & debit cards
  • Understanding the payment card cloning process
  • Using stolen cards to purchase prepaid and gift cards – Case Study
  • How stolen cards are used to launder money – Case Study
  • Understanding the prepaid and gift card market as a criminal money laundering opportunity
  • Prepaid, debit and gift cards -  important differences effect money laundering – Case Study
  • Electronic money laundering using easily accessible tools
  • Legal considerations regarding fourth amendment rights and the status of digital currency
  • Best practices for interdiction, interrogation and processing payment cards – Case Study


Jack Williams, President, ERAD Group
John Tobon, Deputy Special Agent In Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Miami Florida

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