The days were beginning to feel strange for Dex. Having talked to Knuth and planning what would either be his downfall or uprising, everything else seemed so insignificant. Life is so retrospective toward every other thing in life, to the point that this was to be all Dex would think about for the next two months. There was nothing else.
His world was shut around a computer screen and phone; he spent his days thinking, wracking his brain on how exactly he is to do this. How does one achieve this feat which seems so huge, comparable to a mountain climber resting at the bottom of Everest thinking to himself, What have I gotten myself into?
The plan came down to this: Twelve bank accounts would be opened in various international banks and a photocopy of a fake birth certificate or passport would be used to validate the identity of the account holder; each bank account will also have to provide online access to the account and be prepared to deal with large volumes of transactions.
By opening the account internationally you usually are not expected to send your real passport or birth certificate for fear of it being lost in the post. This reduces the integrity checks they can perform on your credentials (such as blue light stamps and holograms on passports). However it is doubtful that any checks would be performed at all, since the identification usually is just copied and appended to the client file, unless of course it looks obviously suspect. The banks don t have time and money to waste on making sure the account holder is who he says he is, as long as he has money; it is doubtful they will care. If they aren t extending credit to someone, they have little to lose.
The fake identification will come from an old school friend of Dex s by the name of Sarah Cullen; she was an art graduate who soon found she had more of an eye for falsifying documents and identification than drawing flowers and fruit in class. She worked now full time, helping failed asylum seekers get into America ”she produces good clean work .She and Dex are on friendly terms so there shouldn t be any problems in getting the identifications made.
Six of the accounts will act as money depots. Knuth would transfer into these accounts via a SWIFT money order throughout the two-month period. Each depot account will have a set path and a set routine that the fake persona is following and will never interact with another depot account. This way if one account is suspected of laundering or fraudulent activity it will not affect the credibility of the others. This should also help to reduce the amount of money in each transaction; $300 to $400 million transactions from one account would be spotted very easily and probably reported to the FBI or CIA for investigation.
The next stage is a middle service, a washing machine for money if you will; this service takes the money and converts it into another legal form. Stocks, bonds , different currencies, liquefiable assets, and so on, and then it is converted back to cash at some stage.
These service companies also would be based in a different country from the bank accounts and with equally protective privacy laws, ensuring that multiple search warrants and international federal cooperation would be needed in each country. A single federal investigation into money laundering operation alone takes months to organize; this should give a fair amount of leeway to Knuth and Dex.
Once the money has been through the service account it will then be transferred into another six different accounts held in South America. These accounts act as money pickup points ”all Knuth has to do is walk down, present the opening letter the bank sent when the account was opened and a copy of the fake birth certificate, and there shouldn t be any problems. If need be Dex could make the bank aware that he would be picking up the money in two months time. This should reduce any suspicion that Knuth is not the account holder making for a smooth withdrawal.
Every account setup has to look normal, conforming to a standard activity that in no way looks out of place. The bank should also be aware of the amount of money that will be going through the account, so they do not become curious when they begin to see $10 million withdrawals. Honesty is the best policy in this case ”if you hide any facts you will be seen as doing something shady and draw suspicion to yourself. Dex will simply tell each bank what the account will be doing (in brief) so they know what type of transactions to expect.
Dex then began to draw up a financial layout including paths and locations for each bank account. The depot banks were chosen based on their geographical location, tax laws, and previous known cooperation with federal agencies. The following countries were decided on: Vanuatu, Antilles, Belize, Isle of Man, Cuicos Islands, and the Maltese Islands. Most of these small countries have very few or very outdated laws in place. This makes them prime targets for the financially gifted and the legally challenged.
Take the Cuicos Islands for example, thought Dex, reading through the CIA World Factbook entry for that country (www.cia.gov/cia/ publications /factbook/geos/tk.html). The Turks and Cuicos economy is based on tourism, fishing , and offshore financial services.
Additionally with the majority of these small islands being dependant on work by offshore banking there is no shortage of banks available. Vanuatu has four large banks alone that offer online accounting abilities , and an additional 15 financial management companies.
Next, a service was chosen for each depot account. These were to be online-based companies that dealt in asset or financial trading, companies such as onlinesharetrading.com, onlinefuturetrading.com, online diamond and asset markets, and so on. This gives each depot account a way of placing the money through another hop or link in the chain; the primary idea is simply to make tracking the money harder. The source is still detectable, but it will take a few months longer to find each link in the chain, which will give Knuth ample time to withdraw the money.
Six different banks were then chosen in South America, which at the moment is overrun by corrupt police and army officials. This has led to no one law being upheld, and the country is saturated with money-desperate banks that welcome any customer who has wealth to bring into their country. However, it would not be very suggestible to leave the money in the accounts for too long or you will find the army has assumed control of your account.
Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador were chosen; shockingly enough, all these banks also offered online access and seemed to be tailor-made for just what Dex was trying to do. Although South America is notorious for drug production bound for the US, Dex was sure he would be sharing these banks with people of much more questionable nature.
A knock at the door broke his chain of thought, and the seven- foot -high bouncer tough guy behind it easily could have broken the rest of Dex. In his hand he held a silver briefcase with a complex combination lock on each side.
Hello? Dex nervously said.
Yeah, I am Bobby. Knuth sent me, I have a package and a message for you, he says in a thick heavy Bronx accent .
Ok, want to come in? Dex replied.
No, the cash is in the case. The combination is Right:87261 Left:92830.
Ok, got it. And the message?
The message is this. Don t mess up, or I m coming back for you. And I wont be happy, and trust me neither will you, he says in a stern and aggressive voice.
Right, OK, well then, I hope I don t see you again, Dex tries to laugh a little as Bobby turns, but Bobby is not impressed. In fact, he doubted anything would impress Bobby.
The door shuts and Dex slumps on the floor.
This better work, please work, please work, he chants. Why does so much weird stuff always happen to me, why couldn t I just be happy with a normal job like everyone else?
The click of the briefcase opening reminded Dex why he had chosen this line of work. Inside lay hundreds and hundreds of hundred dollar bills in tight little bundles. Two hundred thousand, to the dollar. Knuth was a man of his word, that s for sure.
God, this is actually going to happen, Dex thought to himself.
The next thing on Dex s agenda was to call Sarah; he needed the identification documents made, and quickly.
Esquire Cleaning services, how may I help you? said Sarah in a bright and chirpy voice.
Sarah, it s Paul. I need to talk to you about some services. Can we get together somewhere and chat, say over coffee? My shout.
Paul! Yes, of course, I would love to have a coffee and chat a little. Shall we say Joe s Java House, 2 p.m.- ish?
Deal, I ll see you then.
By the time 2 p.m. rolled around, a coffee break was much required; Dex headed down to Joe s and met Sarah. He began to tell her the whole story. The plan, the plot, and what he would need. The only problem was that Sarah made fraudulent documents only to help people; she had no interest in helping known criminals or placing herself in unneeded jeopardy. However, just like Dex, everybody has their price. As it turns out, Sarah usually charged as little as $2,000 per set of documents she produced. Asylum seekers are not known for their wealth and because of this, she was living very close to the bread-line. To make matters worse , she told Dex of her sick mother who needed 24- hour nursing care for a mental disorder she suffers from, placing even more financial stress on her only daughter .
With this in mind Sarah decided to take the job ”$200,000 for six fake identities based in different countries, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, and so on. Dex expressed that he did not want any two identities from the same country. They all had to be male names , and birth certificates would be needed, also.
I can get you these by the end of the week, said Sarah.
Dex was shocked by how quickly she could create these documents, but as Sarah pointed out it was not actually that hard. She had acquired various blank passports from passport offices around the world and all she needed to do was print a name, birth date, and stick a photo on them. By using some watercolors and ink she was able to add country entry stamps and general wear-and-tear to the passport, finishing the illusion. The birth certificate was simply a mix of official paper and steady calligraphy work.
So it was agreed that the money and documents would be swapped at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Sarah seemed very happy with the amount of money offered, and Dex wished her the best of luck with her mother.
The week slipped by too quickly. Dex spent the days finalizing his plans, making sure all banks would cooperate and the money would flow smoothly along its course. Dex began to feel very confident in his ability to make this work. At 4 p.m. on the dot Sarah arrived, carrying with her a large brown paper envelope. Dex invited her in eagerly.
Well here, all done, she said as she handed Dex the envelope.
Excellent, great, super! cried Dex.
Sure enough, inside the envelope lay six passports and six birth certificates. It was amazing, Sarah had used passports from every corner of the globe: Germany, France, England, Mexico, Sweden, even Australia, the quality was amazing. They looked very, very good.
Wow, these look really amazing, Sarah. Hey, the cash is in the case over there, the combination is Right:87261 Left:92830. You can take the case, too, if you want, said Dex.
Sarah picked up the case, thanked Dex, and left. From her cold shoulder attitude Dex could tell that Sarah did not like the thought of aiding a criminal to do criminal acts possibly against the humanity she strived to preserve. But money speaks in this world and her morals had simply been bought out by a higher bidder.
Dex took each passport and jotted down the holder name and assigned it to a depot bank. Bank accounts were assigned based on how close they were geographically to the holder s country of origin. This should help with opening the depot bank accounts, countries seem to be friendlier to their own and people close to their own, or to countries they may have worked with previously.
I doubt I will have any issues, though, Dex thought. It s not like my passports are from troubled countries such as Russia or Slovakia. He could see how the money would flow and how it would be essentially laundered or linked up.
It was now time to start opening bank accounts; using Google Dex quickly was able to find a general customer enquiry phone number for each of his chosen depot and pickup banks. The calls went a little like this:
Bank: Hi, xxxx bank, how may I help you?
Dex: Yes, hi, could I be transferred through to your accounts department please?
Bank: Sure, one moment.
Bank: Accounts, how may I help you?
Dex: Hi there, my name is Mr. xxxxxxx xxxxxxx. I am currently living in America (New York) but I am a resident of xxxxxxxx and I was wondering if you could send me a new account registration form as I will soon be moving to your country and wish to set up my finances in advance.
Bank: Sure, Mr. xxxxxxx, what is your postal address in America?
Dex: P.O. Box 92841, New York, New York, U.S.
Bank: Is this a personal, investment, or company account?
Dex: Personal, but a high-volume personal account. Am I able also to get Internet access with this account, please?
Bank: Sure, I will attach those forms also.
Dex: Hey, thanks a lot.
Bank: OK, they should be with you in a few days. As per government regulations we will need a photocopy of your passport or drivers license so please make sure you attach this, and also make sure you fill out every item that requires information, which will speed up the account creation time.
Dex: Sure, will do, thanks a lot for your help.
The conversation was the same at every bank ”a polite, English-speaking customer representative greeted Dex and was more than happy to help him. These banks seem to live off people dodging taxes and hiding money within their walls, and they welcomed any new customer who would like to bank with them. As expected, no real questions were asked and they were eager to meet the requirement of online banking as well. Two of them even offered Dex a low-interest rate credit card as a signup bonus.
The same P.O. box was used at every bank; this P.O. box was opened about a year ago, paid for in full, with cash, under the name Richard Esquire.
It s just a matter of time now until the bank registration forms come in, thought Dex.
Dex decided to spend some time now finding the exact financial trading companies he would use for each bank account, companies that offered services such as stock trading, equity purchasing, and online investments. Ideally , Dex was looking for large, well-respected corporations that could offer reliable, safe service and were used to large transactions being processed through their systems. Cutting-edge Internet service also was required, because Dex had to be sure that each account would be able to move the money online to the pickup account in South America when the time was right, and that it would be moved quickly via SWIFT or local transfer without any holdups .
Also, the companies ideally should be very relaxed about security, especially around account creation and financial transfers. A lot of share-trading companies, for example, will not allow you to withdraw money to any account but the one the money came from. This was an attempt to stop hackers from getting inside the account and simply withdrawing all the money to their own bank account. These accounts simply will act as another link in the chain and should not hinder the flow of money at all.
Dex begins the long search of finding companies that match the profile, then scrutinizing their FAQ/Terms and conditions for any possible problems or hang-ups in their operation. Seven hours later Dex was able to compile a list composed of ideal companies that have strong We don t care how you got it, or where you send your money just as long as we get 1 percent of it ideals.
They were in these categories:
Currency Exchange www.moneymarkettrading.com
Stock Market (Nikkei 225) www.tradethenikkei225online.com
Internet Payment Services These offer alternative ways of paying people for services or products. They claim that they are handling billions of dollars a day of online transactions. www.webcash.com, www.internetdollars.com
Liquefiable Assets www.diamondexchangeonline.com, www.luxarycars.com.co (luxury cars based in Colombia, this might be a good place to spend some money)
Commodity Trading www.futuretrading2004.com
Investment Bonds www.investmentbondsonline.com
Knuth better not mind loosing a bit of money on this ”an average long-term laundering scheme of this scope would expect to loose up to 30 percent of its total worth throughout the process. This being very short term and high risk it will loose either 1 to 5 percent in transaction fees (best-case scenario), or 20 to 60 percent if the accounts are found out and disabled. Dex does not particularly want to see Knuth s large (and scary) friend Bobby again if he can help it, so any sign that the money is in danger must be taken very seriously and acted upon.
A high-pitched jingle once again pierced Dex s concentration. Someone was calling his cell phone.
Number Not Available, the LCD display read.
Hmm, thought Dex, who the hell could this be?
Hello, who is this? he sharply said as he answered the small device.
This is Knuth, Dex, how are you?
Speak of the devil , man this guy has impeccable timing as always.
Knuth, hello, I am fine, thanks.
Any problems with the money Bobby delivered? asked Knuth in a husky voice.
No, thanks again. I have the required identities now and the bank accounts should be set up in a few days, also.
Great, I will need everything in place and ready for the first money deposit in four weeks time to the day. Is there any problem with that?
No, not at all. The depot accounts are located in secure locations and four weeks should be no problem for the first of the deposits to be made, replied Dex. I would like a reliable way of contacting you, though. You will need some information on how to send money to these accounts, Dex added.
Yes, I was prepared for that. You can reach me at email@example.com, Knuth said.
Ecuador, nice. You ll have a bank account there in a few days, Dex chuckled.
Sounds like you re doing well, Dex. I am very pleased with your progress. I must go now but I will call you again in three weeks to verify the accounts and make sure everything is on track.
One last thing, said Dex. You do know that some losses are expected in this, the risk is high and account fees and private taxes alone might reduce the total amount by 10 percent, not to mention if any of the accounts are found out, Dex nervously said.
I expect some losses, yes, I really have to go now, though. Don t worry about the fees, though. As long as at least 70 percent of the money comes through to South America I will be a happy man, and so will you, Dex.
Ok, I guess I ll talk to you again in three weeks, Dex said as the phone cut dead, leaving nothing but silence and a slight fear in the air.
Dex was becoming strangely acclimatized to this feeling of stale, cold fear, reality now and then brushing his mind reminding him that what he is doing is wrong, although genius. If he is caught he will be many years in prison . He doubted the government would have a hard time jumping to the conclusion that he was somehow aiding Al Queda. A looming axe hung directly over him, and he knew it. What s worse, with this being all that Dex thought about for several weeks now, he was becoming very stale himself, hardly venturing outside anymore, hiding inside plotting and planning every possible scenario and situation that may arise. He needed a break, he needed to revitalize himself. Dex decided that he was far enough along with the schedule, the only remaining urgent task was signing up for the various stock and financial exchange services, and he could do that in the morning.
Dex turned off his various computers, grabbed a jacket, and headed into the night for some fun. Luckily, there s always something going on around here. He hardly noticed the sun rise through the blaze of music and waves of endless electronic splendor. Dex had ended up at Project0, an all-night rave of massive proportions , filled with drug-propelled frenzied maniacs craving mental exploration and self-enlightenment through chemistry and music. By 6 a.m. Dex crept into the sunlight. His mind was tired and weak but he didn t care, this night had been about relaxing , forgetting the sins he was committing and instead washing them away for a brief while.
He retired to bed and hoped to feel slightly less stale when he awoke. At 2 p.m. his eyes opened again, this time into the body of reality, and again he felt the urgency and pressure of the task before him. Dex began to finish setting up the accounts at the chosen financial services Web sites. Dex set up another proxy sever chain with the final proxy server located in the supposed country of the fake identity who was signing up to the Web site. It seemed these companies required less identity than the banks had: a postal address, name, and in some cases, passport number. Trivial to set up, Dex was able to have all accounts ready in minutes without any issues.
Ah, the joy of the Internet.
The majority of these services accepted incoming money deposits through multiple avenues. The most commonly accepted, however, was a SWIFT money transfer, which would allow Dex simply to wire the money to the service company from the deposit account offshore. The only possible down side was a four- to five-day wait while the money was in transit. It would have to do, though.
Any outgoing money transfers again were payable with a wide range of services, the newer more cutting edge companies offered PayPal, local deposits, even western union cash advances as methods of payment, but still everyone offered good old SWIFT wire orders, possibly the longest standing way of sending money overseas. All Dex needed now were some bank accounts, and some money to play with.
Dex decided to go check Richard Esquire s P.O. box to see if anything had shown up. The timing was about right for an international letter sent high priority to have arrived. Enclosed in the small postal box was the usual high volume of postal spam, special deals on pizza and fried chicken, and the bombardment of letters from Reader s Digest informing Richard Esquire he had possibly won first place in a sweepstake prize.
After sifting out the garbage Dex had eight legitimate letters from banks: Vanuatu, Venezuela, Ecuador, Antilles, Isle of Man, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. This left The Maltese Islands, Belize, Bolivia, and The Caicos Islands yet to arrive .
So far, so good. The other letters should arrive soon, thought Dex.
After he arrived back home Dex began the tedious procedure of filling out the forms and attaching the photocopied passport information. The forms were surprisingly helpful, nothing out of the blue at all. Dex answered all the questions truthfully, since after all, honesty is the best policy. He even wrote down that the average balance of the account will be over $5 million, and the account should be deemed high priority because of this. That should help to speed up the time taken to perform any transactions, because the bank, of course, will try to help its wealthier customers first.
The fees on the various accounts were not small, though. Each international transfer over a million USD would cost between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on the bank. Each seemed to have a similar fee structure in place where the ultra wealthy seriously paid for the privilege of keeping their money out of America. I guess when you have $300 million, though, what s a thousand dollars? thought Dex.
Dex finished the forms and chose his desired username and password for each online account, and even agreed to sign up for a bonus low-interest rate MasterCard at Bank Van De Nederlandse in Antilles. This would help the fake identity Niklas Flesicher, who is opening an account there, because his path of money involves buying large amounts of liquefiable assets for later sale, and credit cards are accepted almost anywhere these days.
The last stamped envelope was sent, and Dex retreated to his lounge to relax for the rest of the day. He would check the post again tomorrow and everyday until all the bank registration forms had been completed.
Over the next five days he received the remaining four registration forms and again was quick to fill out and send them all back to the various banks for processing.
The paperwork trail had begun. Dex tried to be careful, destroying any forms and letters the bank did not want sent back by burning them in a small trashcan. The smallest detail could let this entire plot down, he had to be careful. He was, after all, dealing with notorious people with very questionable motives. If Knuth was to be arrested he may tell certain authorities about Dex. This would be most unfortunate and every precaution had to be taken to minimize his risk.
Over the following two weeks Dex received confirmation letters from the banks informing him that the accounts had been created. Dex had chosen simple account types, with only one account having a credit card associated with it, so the account processing time had been short and painless. Enclosed in the various information packs were international payment details for the banks, including SWIFT numbers and addresses. Dex began writing a small document file with each bank account s details in order for Knuth to wire the money into the accounts. The details included bank address, bank SWIFT number (or intermediate SWIFT number), account number, holder s name, and holder s bank identification number (if applicable to the bank).
This finished the setup; all accounts now had been created and were ready for the flow of money to begin.
The following Thursday Dex received another phone call on his cell phone. As expected, it was Knuth again, right on time.
Dex, time is up, buddy, are you all ready for some money? He asked curiously.
Yes, I have the first six accounts set up and ready. I will need you to deposit the money into each account evenly via SWIFT wire transfer, and e-mail me when you have done so. I will then be moving the money into a secondary account and floating it on various markets for a few days, and then the money will be moved into the pickup accounts in South America.
Sounds good, Knuth confidently said.
Yeah, I ll send you an e-mail with all the details, OK? Do you have a PGP key I can use? asked Dex.
Yes. Go to your computer and copy down this fingerprint : 89 2F 6A F0 18 C7 DD E1 67 8F BE C9 1D 5C 83 6C. I ll send the public key to you, be sure to verify it. Do you have an e-mail address you prefer to use for this purpose?
In such cases where anonymity was needed Dex had always tried to use free e-mail accounts outside of America; his most favorite was in Lativa since it offered good connection speeds and reliable e-mail access while having no ties to America.
Kim006@worldhello.lv, said Dex. I ll look forward to your e-mail. I have to go now, though, he added as he sharply hung up the phone.
Dex disliked Knuth always quickly shutting him off at the end of a conversation. It gave an unspoken presence of power over Dex that he hated. A quick check of his e-mail showed that Knuth had been quick about getting the ball rolling.
Dex, Find attached below my key. I will look forward to your conversations in the future. <KEY> </KEY>
Dex added Knuth s key to his key ring and sent an encrypted e-mail to Knuth containing instructions and details for every depot bank along with a copy of his public key for the return communication.
Knuth, Below are the banks and their contact informations. If you could send the first lot of money transfers to the accounts today with transaction times, I should have access to the money within two to four days. Ralph Benchie Account: 00051-0037162-000 The National Bank of Vanuatu, Vanuatu SWIFT: VANNB01 Robert Montague Account: 0514-8273158-010 The Anglo Maltese Bank, Maltese Islands SWIFT: MALB0651 John Annali Account: 0124-72395210-000 Identification: 785496ACB17854 First Bank of Caicos, Caicos Islands SWIFT: CAICOSFB01 Chris Williams Account: 0041-874187-514 Trust Bank of Man, Isle of Man SWIFT: MANTRB091 Andrew Vidales Account: 1479-870012421-0147 Belize Bank, Belize SWIFT: BELI18Z02 Niklas Flesicher Account: 147-001214121-1011-000 Bank Van de Nederlandse, Antilles Intermediate SWIFT Code: Main Branch of Netherlands, Netherlands, NLMBINT01 SWIFT: ANTNL061 The account I would like you to pay me into is: James J. Roger Account: 00451-0001238591-001 Care of: E-Debt Cards International Panama SWIFT: P384A0 Thanks, Dex. Below is a copy of my public key, if you could use it for any communicaion back to me, thanks. <key> </key>
And so it began. The first lot of money was transferred, and every three days following, more money was sent. The account Dex had given Knuth for his own payments was an offshore debt card based in Panama, and every week the balance grew steadily as Knuth sent him his well-earned pay packet. Wire transfer after wire transfer, no one suspected a thing and the accounts performed perfectly . The days were exciting for Dex watching millions and millions of dollars flow through his maze of accounts and financial pathways .
But for Dex it was all over, there was nothing else for him to do. He could swing up his legs, sit back, and catch up on some well-deserved coffee drinking. However, for the six people he had created, their work was just beginning. Like toy robots they each awoke and started to perform the various tasks they had been designed to do.
He mentally became each person, and believed he was not laundering money for Knuth, but doing his own business his own way as that person. Dex suffered from a slight delusional disorder, the lines around reality often blurred, and because of this, Dex found identity theft and impersonation easy. It allowed him to be fully immersed inside a fictional character, so whenever a question was asked or someone doubted his identity he would act in the most believing, sincere manner, since he believed not only that this fake persona existed, but that he was that fake persona.
What would a psychologist say?