How To Use a Pandemic For Criminal Monetary Gain

As international travel continues to be shut down, new strains of COVID-19 are becoming prevalent, and vaccine rollout is slow, you may be wondering, “how can I use this situation for maximum financial advantage?” I’m here to help. Just follow a few simple steps, and, with any luck, anti-money-laundering organizations will be so overwhelmed, they won’t catch you! If you want to learn more, the wonderful folks at the Financial Action Task Force have an excellent report explaining everything here in more detail.

A gloved hand uses a syringe to take out liquid from a medical container.
Vaccine scams are prevalent, but that doesn’t mean the market is over-saturated. (Sky News, 2019)

Step 1: Use Current Events To Your Advantage

The world right now is chaotic, confusing, and sometimes scary. To cope with this, some may retreat into their shells, or spend long hours trying to keep up. You, however, can use the disorientation to fuel a successful scamming operation. Remember that people are feeling lonely and overwhelmed. This makes them way easier to take advantage of. Is there news about stimulus checks? Call the elderly, impersonate a government officer, and collect their Social Security numbers. Has the vaccine been in the press? Pretend to be a healthcare worker trying to schedule an appointment. If you can’t come up with any ideas, don’t worry. Many others have done this before you. Do some research, and find a scam that already exists you can copy or modify.

Step 2: Turn Financial Fluctuations Into Money Laundering Magic

The aforementioned world panic has caused large amounts of volatility in all major financial markets. Do you have some dirty money you’d like to “wash?” Now would be an excellent time to do so! Increased movement means you can take some hard cash out of your coffers and into more stable forms of currency, like precious metals or real estate. In addition, you are likely to get away with large withdrawals of money from a bank account if you simply state the purpose as “COVID-19.” If that’s still too risky, thanks to the power of the internet, you can use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies when extorting or scamming. The advantage of this method is that it is essentially untraceable. The disadvantage is that Bitcoin is very volatile, so a $1000 you took from someone’s credit card might become only $550 the next day.

VIX shows market volatility over time. Notice the bump in March. (Google Finance, 2021)

Step 3: Diversify

If most of your income comes from selling illicit or controlled substances, you might have found the early days of the pandemic stressful. To make sure that doesn’t happen again, try branching out into fields like cybercrime, online child exploitation, and counterfeiting. Some of these may have a large entry cost; counterfeiting, for example, will require building or expanding your scamming division and getting access to manufacturing infrastructure. Even so, implementing alternate forms of revenue will be worth it in the long run, as you no longer have to worry about external dependencies or cash crunches.

After following these three easy steps, you’ll be well on your way to exploiting the dire state of the world. Congratulations! Just remember, as the old saying goes, “many spots on the character are removed by a solution of gold.”

Citations

Coronavirus Scams — Consumer Resources. (2020, March 20). Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/covid-scams

Covid-19 Scams. (n.d.). U.S. Department Of The Treasury. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from https://home.treasury.gov/services/report-fraud-waste-and-abuse/covid-19-scams

Fernstrom, M. (2021, January 21). 5 Covid-19 vaccine scams to watch out for. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/know-your-value/feature/5-covid-19-vaccine-scams-watch-out-ncna1254699

Financial Action Task Force. (2020). COVID-19-related Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing — Risks and Policy Responses. https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/COVID-19-AML-CFT.pdf

Google. (n.d.). [Stock Chart of VIX from Google Finance]. https://www.google.com/finance/quote/VIX:INDEXCBOE

Paul, K. (2019, March 1). Anti-vaccine “fake news” causing decline in take-up and rise in measles, NHS chief says. Sky News. https://news.sky.com/story/anti-vaccine-fake-news-causing-decline-in-take-up-and-rise-in-measles-nhs-chief-says-11652012

Reiff, N. (2020, June 16). Why Bitcoin Has A Volatile Value. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/052014/why-bitcoins-value-so-volatile.asp

Wirdum, A. van. (2015, November 18). Is bitcoin anonymous? A Complete Beginner’s Guide. Bitcoin Magazine. https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/is-bitcoin-anonymous-a-complete-beginner-s-guide-1447875283

A student who does fun things every once in a while.