Secret Service Busts $6 Billion Money Laundering Scheme

In what seems almost like a surreal environment of successive scandals, the U.S. Secret Service scored a major victory today. Five individuals were arrested and multiple bank accounts seized in a six billion dollar money laundering scheme.

In a statement, Secret Service officials said authorities in Spain, Costa Rica and New York arrested five people on Friday and seized bank accounts and Internet domains associated with the company Liberty Reserve – a Costa Rica-based website that deals in digital currency and allows transnational online payments and money transfers.

Digital currency is a “form of online currency made up of transferable units that can be exchanged with cash.” The unique quality of this system is that you need little more than an email address to open an account without any personal information-therefore making the accounts untraceable. That fact made the service a “central hub for criminals trafficking in everything from stolen identities to child pornography”, according to the NY Times.

The indictment described the network as “one of the principal means by which cyber criminals around the world distribute, store and launder proceeds of their illegal activity … including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and narcotics trafficking.”

Despite the fact that Liberty Reserve closed their Costa Rica Offices in 2011, the website continued to operate. The company conducted transactions in various forms of currency, including euros, roubles and dollars. Visitors to the website are now greeted with this image from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.



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