Law enforcement officials in most U.S. states have quietly deployed controversial handheld scanners as part of an effort to interdict suspicious funds held on prepaid cards and other magnetic-stripe products.
Prompted by signs that criminals are increasingly exploiting prepaid cards, federal and state investigators are turning to a handful of recent legal decisions to justify reading the value held on the instruments, sources say.
A congressionally-mandated plan to require U.S. border crossers to declare funds held on prepaid cards remains stalled at the White House more than a year after its submission for final review.
The theft of $45 million by cybercriminals exploiting and manipulating stolen prepaid card data highlights weaknesses in how financial institutions monitor the use of stored value products, say security experts.
U.S. lawmakers Thursday criticized federal officials for delays in finalizing anti-money laundering rules and failing to prosecute banks and bankers that facilitate billions of dollars in illicit transactions.
Personally letting law enforcement agents know about clients' questionable activity can be crucial to identifying money launderers, according to Hector Colon, unit chief of the Illicit Finance and Proceeds of Crime Unit of Homeland Security Investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.