How To Launder Money With Using Uber and Airbnb?

Blog / How To Launder Money With Using Uber and Airbnb?

Money laundering has started to be done in many different ways with technology development in recent years. Such technological advantages include Uber, Airbnb, and various applications that are frequently used today.

Dealing with Money Mules

The purpose of money laundering is to legalize an illegal source of income. Criminals have to launder money in many different ways so that their crimes are not detected. Today, the most common method used by these criminals is to take advantage of technology. One of the ways criminals take advantage of technology is by hiring Airbnb and Uber employees.

Payment systems used in many mobile applications can perform transactions with money transferred from stolen credit cards. As a result, financial criminals can use the tool to use these payment systems to cover up their crimes. 

Uber Ride with Stolen Credit Cards

Among the top crimes involving money laundering is fraud. Even if the scam takes place through cyberspace, thieves must resort to various options to legally show their money. Using Uber is one of these methods. Ziv Mador, who leads the SpiderLabs research team of cybersecurity firm Trustwave, explained that criminals had used such "Gig Economy" applications in recent years to avoid detection of cybercrime.

According to Mador, during this laundering process, scammers invest some of their money on a ride that doesn't really exist, and at the end of the day, the money comes back to them. To explain in more detail, because the Uber driver or employee is hired by a money-laundering person, it makes it look like there is a customer in their vehicle. But such a ride or client is not real. The money on the stolen card appears to have been legitimately earned by giving it to this Uber ride, but it's actually laundered money.  Dealing with the drivers in these transactions is not as difficult as expected. Drivers do not feel guilty for not stepping out of what they normally do. But they still regret it after learning about the legal sanctions.

Most money laundering transactions through Uber take place in China. One of the methods used in such overseas transactions is called the "Acupuncture" method. In the acupuncture method, the driver, who deals with financial criminals, collects the money from the stolen credit card through the fake ride and then sends it back to the overseas criminals. The criminals who are sent overseas money in this process are called “nurses.”

Apart from China, this method is also very popular in countries such as India and the USA. In 2017, 13 people were arrested in a case in New York. In this case in Manhattan Federal Court, fraudulent driving plans were identified. Since then, the US Law Enforcement Forces have continued to take measures in this regard. 

The Similarity of Airbnb and Uber Fraud

Uber isn't the only mobile app that has been laundered by money. Airbnb hosts also sometimes mediate these crimes, as is done through Uber. Criminals collaborating through ads posted on the dark web can masquerade as having non-existent guests in their Airbnb homes and transfer funds to their accounts. In fact, when these funds obtained as a result of financial crime are transferred to the Airbnb account, they become legal.  Sometimes, if it is necessary to launder a large amount of money, criminals can make annual deals with money mules who own more than one home. To summarize, just like with Uber, a service in Airbnb appears to be given to a customer who is not there. 

According to a report verified by Trustwave, advertisements such as “managers of Airbnb hosts -- I'm looking for people who have real hosts from this company” were published on the dark web in 2018. In addition, after much news was published, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) started to work on tightening the audit of Airbnb Payments UK (APUK). 

Money can be laundered in many different ways, as seen in the examples. Sanction Scanner helps companies comply with regulations while preventing money laundering with its software services. You can contact us for more information or request a demo.

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