Amazon Self-Published Books are the Latest Money Laundering Scheme
Amazon’s self-publishing print book service gives authors the ability to easily upload and sell their work online. Like other online peer-to-peer marketplaces involving the transfer of money from one user to another use through online platforms, Amazon’s print-on-demand service is a path for money laundering. And money launderers are, seemingly, already using it. Here’s the vector: money launderers steal the accounts of legitimate authors and proceed to upload fake, but expensive, titles. The launderers then buy large quantities of these books to move their money to legitimate bank accounts where the money appears to be the proceeds of legitimate purchases. After deducting the charges and fees, authors typically take home 60% of the sale price, meaning that this form of money laundering is quite efficient and cost effective. In one case, the fake book sold for $555 a copy and created $24,000 in seemingly legitimate funds for the launderer. It would not be necessary to compromise an account, either. A money laundering operation could be established as part of a legitimate book printing business, further obscuring the trail.
Amazon is working to strengthen prevention and detection measures.