Laundering money in the digital world

With the advent of the digital world, laundering money has been able to create new techniques. Two new trends: online gaming, and micro laundering.

Online gaming is not online gambling (which we may have thought about when speaking of illegal activities), it is the use role playing games (RPG) such as World Of Warcraft (WoW) to move money. Indeed many RPG provide the possibility to purchase or sell either virtual coins collected during the game play, or rare virtual artifacts. The trade can use real money. Blizzard recently announced that it will close Diablo III’s market place. A way to avoid this type of issues?

Micro laundering uses services such as PayPal or virtual credit cards and people that will transfer temporary through their accounts. Interestingly, I learned that some Nigerian scams were indeed semi-real. They look for people to transfer illegal money. The people accepting the transfer operation may be rewarded, but this person will be liable for money laundering!!

This activity is described in Jean Loup RICHET’s report “Laundering Money Online: a review of cybercriminals’ methods”. This report gives a high-level view of the new trends. Unfortunately, it misses serious figures, references and technical details. I do not know if there is a non-public version with more information.

If you look for a quick draft overview, it is a good start. Also, a good view on how inventive they can be.


J.-L. Richet, Laundering Money Online: a review of cybercriminals methods, 2013 available at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *