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4 Ways You May Be Laundering Money — Without Even Knowing It

Were you arrested for money laundering and didn't know you were doing it?

As top defense and civil litigation lawyers at Gallian Firm in Dallas, we routinely represent state and federal defendants who face various legal issues involving financial crimes, including those who have been charged with money laundering.   Money laundering is a highly prosecuted crime and is often an element of a number of different related white collar crime cases.

While many people associate money laundering with criminal enterprises and illicit activities, things are not always as they seem.  The reality is that individuals can unwittingly engage in money laundering without realizing it, and be charged without ever thinking they have committed a crime.  Beyond the reality of how scary and traumatic this can be for people, the consequences can be severe and destroy the quality of life for people and their families, even resulting in long prison sentences. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the definition of money laundering and highlight four ways you may be laundering money without knowing it.  If you are ever charged with, or think you may be charged with any type of financial crime, reach out to our lawyers at Gallian Firm for a free, confidential consultation.  We will listen to your situation and offer unbiased guidance as to potential next steps to protect you.

Understanding Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of concealing the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by transferring it through a complex sequence of banking or commercial transactions.  At other times, a simple transfer from one bank account to another is enough to qualify, or moving cash from one account to another.  

The primary goal of money laundering is to make the proceeds of criminal activity appear legitimate, thus enabling criminals to enjoy their ill-gotten gains without attracting suspicion from law enforcement authorities.  But what happens if you are laundering money but never had an intent to “hide” funds?  What if you didn’t know proceeds were from illegal activity?

Common Ways You May Be Laundering Money Without Knowing It

1. Unwittingly Participating in a Ponzi Scheme

Ponzi schemes are fraudulent investment schemes that promise high returns to investors but use funds from new investors to pay returns to earlier investors. If you unknowingly invest in a Ponzi scheme or recruit others to join, you may be facilitating money laundering by helping to legitimize the funds obtained through the scheme’s illegal activities.  Ponzi schemes are extremely common, and often are masked as legitimate investment opportunities.  It is critical that you contact our attorneys if you are in the midst of a situation that may be a Ponzi scheme and unfolding into what looks like criminal charges coming your way.

2. Engaging in Structuring Transactions

Without knowing the extent of the criminal activity, you may be participating in “structuring.” Structuring, also known as “smurfing”, involves breaking up large financial transactions into smaller amounts to avoid triggering financial reporting requirements. While you may engage in structuring to avoid attention from authorities or to evade taxes or lessen the tax burden tied to your activities, you may inadvertently be laundering money by concealing the true source of the funds.

3. Accepting Payments from Unverified Sources

laundering money

This is a big one, and becoming more common in the age of electronic payments and the volume of internet transactions.  If you accept payments from individuals or businesses without conducting proper due diligence to verify the legitimacy of the funds, you could be unwittingly laundering money. For example, accepting large cash payments from unknown individuals or businesses online, without asking questions about the source of the funds may expose you to liability for money laundering. 

4. Participating in Online Money Laundering Schemes

With the rise of online commerce and digital payment platforms, criminals have developed sophisticated schemes to launder money through the internet. For example, you may unknowingly participate in online money laundering schemes by acting as a money mule, facilitating the transfer of funds between accounts or engaging in cryptocurrency transactions without understanding the source of the funds.  Again—this is becoming more and more common, and federal prosecutions are increasing each year in this new area of financial malfeasance. 

Avoiding Unintentional Money Laundering

To avoid unintentionally laundering money, it’s essential to exercise caution and diligence in your financial transactions. Here are some tips to help protect yourself:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence before entering into financial transactions or investment opportunities.
  • Familiarize yourself with relevant laws and regulations governing financial transactions, including reporting requirements and anti-money laundering laws.
  • Be cautious of offers that seem too good to be true, especially those promising high returns with little risk.
  • Consult with legal and financial professionals if you have any doubts or concerns about the legitimacy of a transaction or investment opportunity.

At Gallian Firm, we understand the serious legal consequences associated with money laundering allegations. If you find yourself facing accusations of money laundering or any other financial crime, it’s crucial to seek experienced legal representation as soon as possible. Our team of skilled financial crime defense lawyers is here to provide aggressive advocacy and strategic defense strategies tailored to your case.  This type of prosecution requires a fierce defense. 

Contact Gallian Firm in Dallas today to schedule a consultation if facing money laundering charges and learn more about how we can help protect your rights and defend against money laundering charges. Don’t wait until it’s too late – meet with us to begin the fight for your freedom and reputation.


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