Criminal groups frequently seek out industry professionals and service providers to help or ‘facilitate’ their criminal activities. Criminal groups are motivated to use professional facilitators for two reasons:
- criminals often lack the necessary skills, knowledge or access to carry out crimes in particular sectors, such as in complex financial or computer-based sectors
- using facilitators helps criminals distance themselves from criminal activity and these professionals can give the criminal activity an aura of legitimacy.
Some facilitators are willing and paid helpers, others may help because they are being coerced through blackmail and intimidation. Some may be unaware they are facilitating crime. Generally professional facilitators use specialist knowledge and expertise to exploit legal loopholes, find opportunities for criminals, or help criminals retain and legitimise proceeds of crime.
The type of work undertaken by facilitators varies and examples include:
- laundering money by working around regulations and controls in the regulated financial sector, or by buying or selling high-end luxury goods
- manipulating import processes at borders
- transporting and storing illicit goods
- assisting with technical components in manufacturing illicit drugs
- reaching and communicating with intended victims of fraud
- providing access to communication facilities such as phone, fax or email so criminal groups can communicate with each other using the facilitator’s business as a ‘shield’
- helping criminals avoid detection when laundering money by adding legitimacy to financial transactions
- providing clandestine accommodation for human trafficking victims
- using computer technology to help steal identities.