“Retail theft” is usually associated with shoplifters. But according to a report from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), these crimes are scaling up and are increasingly organized.
According to HIS and ACAMS, teams of “boosters” carry out the thefts in retail stores, while another group, “cleaners”, make the stolen goods appear legitimate and “fencers” resell the items in other stores or online. Finally, money launderers send the revenue generated to criminals tied to cybercrime, fraud, drug trafficking, terrorism financing, weapons trafficking, and transnational organized crime.
The two agencies also stated the groups are sometimes violent against retail employees while committing their crimes.
“Organized retail theft is a low-risk, high-reward crime that generates nearly $70 billion in the United States alone, and much of that sum is routed into financial institutions under the guise of legitimate sales made through online marketplaces,” said co-author of the report Lauren Kohr, ACAMS Senior Director of Anti-Money Laundering in the Americas. “For this reason, it is critical that banks and other financial institutions are not only aware of the scale of the problem but also actively work to identify and report related suspicious activity.”
Photo courtesy Daniel Ramirez/Flickr.