skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 201589 Find in a Library
Title: Undercover Sting Operations in Money Laundering Cases
Author(s): R. E. Bell
Date Published: 2000
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: International Assoc of Prosecutors
2514 EP the Hague, Netherlands
Sale Source: International Assoc of Prosecutors
Hartogstraat 13
2514 EP the Hague,
Document: PDF
Type: Instructional Material; Issue Overview
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This paper describes various types of "sting" and undercover operations in the United States and the United Kingdom that have been used to counter money laundering schemes.
Abstract: The justification for sting operations in money laundering cases was explained in United States v. Foster. The court observed that "Money laundering is a crime of subterfuge and concealment. Bank records alone reveal little, if any, information if the alleged laundering is as sophisticated as is alleged in this case. Undercover operations, therefore, can be an essential tool in tying seemingly innocuous bank entries to criminal activity." There are two types of money laundering stings: "stinging the launderer" and "stinging the criminal entrepreneur." In the first type of operation, police officers pretend to be criminals and ask for their "proceeds of crime" to be laundered. In the second type of sting, sometimes referred to as a "reverse sting," undercover police pretend to be launderers and invite criminals to use their "laundering service." U.S. law enforcement agencies use sting operations to target any entry point that is being knowingly used to introduce proceeds of crime into the financial system. Such entry points may include car dealerships, restaurants, bookmakers, check-cashing services, pawn shops, and even churches. U.S. money laundering stings often begin with an informant initiating a relationship with the defendant, followed by an undercover agent later substituting for the informant. Other issues discussed regarding U.S. undercover operations are laundering referrals, cross-border stings, the recording of conversations, and the duration of operations. In the United Kingdom, sting operations could be mounted with the objective of prosecuting defendants for an offense of failing to disclose knowledge or suspicion of the laundering of drug trafficking proceedings. Sting operations could also be conducted with the objective of prosecuting defendants for the major laundering offenses of acquisition, possession or use of the proceeds of drug trafficking or criminal conduct; assisting another to retain the benefit of drug trafficking or criminal conduct; and concealing or transferring the proceeds of drug trafficking or criminal conduct. If not properly controlled, sting operations may involve coercion, intimidation, or persuasion of a person not otherwise predisposed to commit an offense. Sting operations should be based on a reasonable indication that the subject is engaging in, has engaged in, or is likely to engage in illegal activity of a similar type. This paper also discusses the use of informants, the expense of sting operations, difficulties with representations, and international criticism. In conclusion, the paper advises that sting and undercover operations should not be overused, or launderers will begin to anticipate them.
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Investigative techniques; Money laundering; Police-run fencing operations; Undercover activity; Undercover training; United Kingdom (UK); United States of America
Note: Downloaded July 15, 2003.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.