Jump to content

How do superhumans launder money?


Recommended Posts

Let's say a superhuman has lots of cash.  Whether from criminal enterprise or created via superpowers it matters not.  What does matter is that cash only goes so far.  Large purchases have the sort of bureaucratic oversight that looks askance at duffel bags of $20s, and a bag of money won't even get you shovelware in an online store.  There needs to be a way to turn those Jacksons and Benjamins into 0s and 1s.  Fast, and in bulk.  How does one go about doing that?

Link to post
Share on other sites

The quick answers

 

1) Go to a fence who has international connections. He'll take the cash and ship it abroad where it can be used without the Feds doing inconvenient things like tracking serial numbers on the bills. The supervillain gets maybe as much as 20 cents on the dollar unless he intimidates the fence into a better deal

 

2) Set up your own laundering operation. Usually those are businesses which deal in large amounts of cash so it isn't unusual to see them come in with lots of cash. Traditionally laundromats, restaurants, casinos, and similar businesses are used. The cash is either handed out in change to customers or is eventually deposited in a bank.

 

3) Buy stuff. Underground bases. Equipment upgrades. Labs. Vehicles. Salary for henchmen. Art.

Stuff like art and real estate are considered especially good because there's no set price on either so there's a lot of shady people involved who like cash purchases.

 

https://www.businessinsider.com/beginners-guide-to-money-laundering-2014-10?op=1

 

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/022015/what-methods-are-used-launder-money.asp

 

https://money.howstuffworks.com/money-laundering.htm

 

Fictional money laundering wouldn't be much different that real world money laundering.

 

For game purposes, using fences, real estate, drugs, art, gold, and jewels would probably be the most cinematic choices. Most players aren't going to have a lot of patience for tracking down accounting tricks or busting up the neighborhood laundromat, even if it is laundering cash for a criminal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For low-end transactions, I was thinking debit and gift cards.  Debit cards can be purchased and funded at the same store, then you can add funds whenever needed.  Thing is, most debit cards have a low upper limit as to funding (the one I use has a $2000 limit) so it's not like you can put all the cash from a really big score into it at once.  Gift cards are even more low-end--usually the highest one you can get is $500, but for mundane purchases they are as anonymous as cash, and easier to carry.

 

Hope that helps.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Organized crime often launders money through investing it in legitimate legal businesses. Banks, traders, etc. who are willing to handle ill-gotten assets can put them into well-managed companies that will continue to make a profit for the investors. As long as you declare all the profits you receive and pay taxes on them, in most circumstances the government won't look too closely at where the original cash infusion came from. Another option is putting the money into an "offshore" bank account, where regulations are looser and fewer questions are asked. From there the bank can make investments, transfers, even purchases in your name.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I'd say it depends on how into the details you want to get about it. Any large cash business is a good way to do it in the real world. Strip clubs, laundry mat's, change machines, vending machines, convenience stores in low income neighborhoods. You could go the Victor Von Doom route and just buy a country. I would personally look to digital currency where the regulations are still not dry on the paper, who cares if you take a bath once in a while on market jitters, laundry usually has a 20+% price tag anyway. Or fill a niche for your fellow criminals and let them launder for you by buying the hard goods they steal and fencing them.

 

Outside of these things, I'd look to the superhuman's particular strengths in disposing of money just like I do when acquiring it. You can teleport across the earth? Sweet, arrange for drop boxes where people pick up in one currency and drop off in another. Then convert back to the original by shifting the money one location over and all laundered. You are super intelligent? Shell companies. Other powers? Set up a legitimate business doing what your super powers let you do and wash it through your legitimate business. 

 

- E

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

Any large cash business is a good way to do it in the real world. Strip clubs-

 

Oo!  Now I have a practical reason to become Vice Lord of the Hudson City Strip.  I can convert cash into credit, and help out the workers there!  Unions, housing, harm reduction, medical care, runaway watch...if I got money from elsewhere they won't even be a drain.  No doubt some jerks'll try to start a problem, but only one easily solved via superpowers.  😁

Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt you'd even need to open a real cash business.  Just incorporate a company and get yourself a business address.  Then start depositing cash into the bank.  Sparkle Car Wash Inc., at 952 SW 58th Street, Office 2B.  If somebody drives by it's just a cheap office building and office 2B has your logo on the door.  The lights are off, but there's a mail slot, and if you look inside you'll see some furniture.  There are flowers (fake ones) on the receptionist's desk.  It just looks like people stepped out of the office for a bit.

 

Anyway, every day you have somebody come by and deposit large amounts of cash.  Just make sure to declare it on your taxes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been looking at the replies and found them wanting for some reason, in spite of them pretty much matching my prior research (even citing the same sources).  Then it occurred to me: they all involve fussy chores.  How would a superhuman get (or even find) somebody else to do said chores?  (You'd think Dark Champions would describe criminal cultures with as much fussy detail as it did criminalistics...)

 

And on the subject of buying homes and businesses, what is the upper limit of what I can buy with duffel bags?

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, AlgaeNymph said:

I've been looking at the replies and found them wanting for some reason, in spite of them pretty much matching my prior research (even citing the same sources).  Then it occurred to me: they all involve fussy chores.  How would a superhuman get (or even find) somebody else to do said chores?  (You'd think Dark Champions would describe criminal cultures with as much fussy detail as it did criminalistics...)

 

And on the subject of buying homes and businesses, what is the upper limit of what I can buy with duffel bags?

 

There is always someone willing to do the tedious chores if they are paid enough.  I suggest a lawyer like Michael Cohen.

 

Now the plot hook - the hero has to protect said scumbag lawyer to be able to testify against the supervillain.  Sure he is a loud-mouthed, insufferable, entitled douche, but without his testimony the supervillain walks, and the supervillain knows it.

 

I don't know what the current limit is for cash transactions you can make before the merchant or bank has to report it, but I don't believe it is all that high (several thousand dollars I think).  You could buy some jewelry with cash, but probably not a car without raising eyebrows.  Again, the supervillain is going to get henchmen to do this because it will take lots of smaller transactions to get rid of large amounts of cash rather than a few big ones.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Ockham's Spoon said:

 

I don't know what the current limit is for cash transactions you can make before the merchant or bank has to report it, but I don't believe it is all that high (several thousand dollars I think).  You could buy some jewelry with cash, but probably not a car without raising eyebrows.  Again, the supervillain is going to get henchmen to do this because it will take lots of smaller transactions to get rid of large amounts of cash rather than a few big ones.

 

I think the bank limit is still $10,000. But if you make a series of $9000 deposits, for example, that'll usually trigger an investigation since they assume that you're trying to structure the transactions in order to avoid going over the limit which automatically flags transactions. ("Structuring" is it's own crime now, which is something which infuriates me. Doing something which is legal is still perfectly fine. But if you do something which is perfectly legal three times, that's now a crime.)

 

Merchants don't have any limits at all that I'm aware of.

 

I used to work for a car dealership and met a dealership owner from south Florida.

 

He told stories about people coming in with bodyguards and test driving several different high-end sports cars. The salesman would ask them which car they liked.

 

The person would respond that he liked them all and snap his fingers at a bodyguard who would step forward with a very large case of cash. And buy three or four cars at a time.

 

Now this was back in the 1980's and a Ferrari would have cost back $85-100,000 each (which would be $200,00-$235,000 in today's dollars). 

 

Now law enforcement might come back later and ask you what you can remember about the guy who made the purchase and get a warrant to look at the sale paperwork. But there's no problem at all with the money itself (assuming the money isn't counterfeit or from a bank robbery, of course).

Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, archer said:

("Structuring" is it's own crime now, which is something which infuriates me. Doing something which is legal is still perfectly fine. But if you do something which is perfectly legal three times, that's now a crime.)

 

Eh, I had someone break into my savings account and spend several days doing bank transfers offshore.  Just below the limits.  The credit union caught it on the 4th day.

Breaking into my bank account was a crime, actually transferring the money was a crime (each time) and I'm fine if Structuring the transfers to give them a few more days of transfers is a crime in and of itself.  Some things are used for illegal things 90% of the time and should be illegal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Jhamin said:

 

Eh, I had someone break into my savings account and spend several days doing bank transfers offshore.  Just below the limits.  The credit union caught it on the 4th day.

Breaking into my bank account was a crime, actually transferring the money was a crime (each time) and I'm fine if Structuring the transfers to give them a few more days of transfers is a crime in and of itself.  Some things are used for illegal things 90% of the time and should be illegal.

 

I understand what you're saying.

 

But if the goal is to punish people more severely for their actions, which is all the structuring charge does for actual criminals who are doing otherwise criminal things, I'd argue a better way to deal with it is to increase the punishments for breaking into the account and for stealing the money.

 

I have zero problems with structuring triggering an investigation. That's fantastic. 

 

But some things are used for legal purposes 10% of the time. And I have a real problem with punishing people who are doing something legal and doing it for legal purposes...and the only reason why you're criminalizing the behavior of those people at all is because you want to add another criminal charge to a laundry list of criminal charges for someone else.

Link to post
Share on other sites

To more directly answer the original question, I would imagine that several of the various Champions Universe organizations do this for a fee.

Viper would almost certainly exchange duffel bags of money for bank deposits.  They have a large number of legitimate businesses and hundreds of shell companies

Argent explicitly sells it's services to various underworld figures, I would imagine that money laundering would be among them.

People have made jokes about Nigerian Princes, but the CU has several extremely shady fictional countries with outright criminal rulers.  I can easily imagine them partially funding themselves via underground international currency exchanges.

 

After that there is the non-powered mafia and underworld figures. 

I imagine most tech-savvy criminals are into bitcoin

 

I'm sure all of these operations would demand a service fee, but that is the cost of working outside the law.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, AlgaeNymph said:

I've been looking at the replies and found them wanting for some reason, in spite of them pretty much matching my prior research (even citing the same sources).  Then it occurred to me: they all involve fussy chores.  How would a superhuman get (or even find) somebody else to do said chores?  (You'd think Dark Champions would describe criminal cultures with as much fussy detail as it did criminalistics...)

 

 

24 minutes ago, Jhamin said:

To more directly answer the original question, I would imagine that several of the various Champions Universe organizations do this for a fee.

Viper would almost certainly exchange duffel bags of money for bank deposits.  They have a large number of legitimate businesses and hundreds of shell companies

Argent explicitly sells it's services to various underworld figures, I would imagine that money laundering would be among them.

People have made jokes about Nigerian Princes, but the CU has several extremely shady fictional countries with outright criminal rulers.  I can easily imagine them partially funding themselves via underground international currency exchanges.

 

After that there is the non-powered mafia and underworld figures. 

I imagine most tech-savvy criminals are into bitcoin

 

I'm sure all of these operations would demand a service fee, but that is the cost of working outside the law.

 

The fictional countries would be especially good choices. In particular, Costa Azul, Lugendu, and Taqiristan are hubs of international criminal activity. If interested, you can read more about them and the other CU countries on this forum post .

 

In the current official Champions Universe, there's a group called Villainy Unlimited (thoroughly detailed in the 5E book, Cops, Crews, And Cabals), that provides a range of services to supervillains who have great difficulty getting them from other sources: legal representation, bail bonding, insurance, medical care, acquiring costumes and more mundane items, mediation of disputes, and the like. Financial assistance and advice is another major service they offer. While VU won't directly launder money, or provide any direct assistance in committing a crime, it does provide financial and investment advice, help villains set up bank accounts and trust funds under false names, and transfer money to offshore bank accounts. It's not that VU's founder, lawyer Tom Franchetti, has significant scruples. He just wants to stay below the radar of law enforcement, and maintain plausible deniability.

 

It would be easy to broaden VU's services to the more blatantly criminal for use in a particular campaign; or create a similar organization willing to take bigger chances for bigger rewards.

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, archer said:

He told stories about people coming in with bodyguards and test driving several different high-end sports cars. The salesman would ask them which car they liked.

 

The person would respond that he liked them all and snap his fingers at a bodyguard who would step forward with a very large case of cash. And buy three or four cars at a time.

 

Now this was back in the 1980's and a Ferrari would have cost back $85-100,000 each (which would be $200,00-$235,000 in today's dollars). 

 

Now law enforcement might come back later and ask you what you can remember about the guy who made the purchase and get a warrant to look at the sale paperwork. But there's no problem at all with the money itself (assuming the money isn't counterfeit or from a bank robbery, of course).

My grandfather never financed a vehicle. He hated interest and always paid cash. Now for him, that usually meant something at or under $50,000, but he would bring the cash if he had called ahead and they would not take a check. 

 

For private sales, cash is legal tender no matter the amount. So going to Craigslist and buying up several businesses in your city (Orlando used here as an example https://orlando.craigslist.org/search/bfs?sort=pricedsc) and then paying a property manager in cash to manage them would be a great way to launder. Pay for repairs and additions in cash, all employees paid in cash (at a premium for their inconvenience), etc. Or just pay a nice high rolling accountant to handle it all.

 

- E

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

My grandfather never financed a vehicle. He hated interest and always paid cash. Now for him, that usually meant something at or under $50,000, but he would bring the cash if he had called ahead and they would not take a check. 

 

For private sales, cash is legal tender no matter the amount. So going to Craigslist and buying up several businesses in your city (Orlando used here as an example https://orlando.craigslist.org/search/bfs?sort=pricedsc) and then paying a property manager in cash to manage them would be a great way to launder. Pay for repairs and additions in cash, all employees paid in cash (at a premium for their inconvenience), etc. Or just pay a nice high rolling accountant to handle it all.

 

- E

 

I've never financed a vehicle either, but I have never paid cash.  It is just inconvenient to carry that much cash, even if it is legal tender for all debts.  But being hard to trace, cash is great for criminals.  And marijuana sales since they are technically illegal on the federal level even if they are legal on a state level in some places.  Which makes a marijuana shop another good place to launder money.

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

In the current official Champions Universe, there's a group called Villainy Unlimited (thoroughly detailed in the 5E book, Cops, Crews, And Cabals), that provides a range of services to supervillains who have great difficulty getting them from other sources: legal representation, bail bonding, insurance, medical care, acquiring costumes and more mundane items, mediation of disputes, and the like. Financial assistance and advice is another major service they offer. While VU won't directly launder money, or provide any direct assistance in committing a crime, it does provide financial and investment advice, help villains set up bank accounts and trust funds under false names, and transfer money to offshore bank accounts.

I definitely had them in mind since VIPER, ARGENT, and baddie nations are jerks and meanies.  It's where Lady Blue goes, so that's endorsement enough for me.  But like you said they're not stop-n-drop.

 

However, where would a superhero deposit lots of conjured/transmuted cash?  Can't imagine anyplace overt since the Secret Service, which already doesn't like superhumans, would look askance at any (understandably) alleged counterfeiter.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...