Research Essay- pomegranate

The terms, “money laundering” and “mattress stores” don’t necessarily spark an interest for readers. However, once the meanings are explained and it is clear how they go hand in hand, it then leaves readers with a jaw dropping type of realization. Money laundering is not a well-known term. Not many cases are found in which money laundering is involved. This is because the people who are committing this crime are successful. When these people become successful and find themselves becoming successful, they continue to pursue this act. Money laundering is the act of taking “dirty money” and putting it through legitimate businesses to later have it become “clean.” Putting the money that one receives and putting it into a bank right away may look suspicious if it is a significant amount of money. If the money is used in small amounts at a time, it will be easier to put through businesses to make clean and then will, without suspicion, have the ability to be put into the bank without question. All of the extra money that is not being used right away, where does it go? Back in the day, when people didn’t have banks to put their money in, they would hide it in a now-a-days more obvious spot in their homes. This hiding place is a mattress. The two tie together in a way to make a steep, yet believable, conspiracy theory.

            When driving past a mattress store, it is easy to notice the signs in the windows and the lack of people inside. Buying a mattress is a once in a decade event. Theref0re, there cannot be such high demand on mattresses. The solution in which many people find believable, but it has yet to be proven, is that mattress stores are money laundering scams. This simply means that while the owner of this business is holding the mass amounts of money, they can hide it in these stores without question. No one would suspect there to be money in the mattresses in these stores. In the back, there is never an abundance of the mattresses that are on the floor, they must be ordered. The back contains a few mattresses and if this conspiracy is true, a bunch of money. The assumption continues; they have been laundering money for years but they would not like to get caught doing it so the one place many people look, but is so obvious not to see, would be in the mattresses of a mattress store. It is steep, but it makes sense. The cause of these mattress stores having no one in them, but they continue to stay open, would be simply because they are money laundering scams. The money must be spread, however, which explains why there is an absurd amount of mattress stores within a mile radius of each other.

                A study done in Houston; Texas showed that there were 133 Starbucks stores. This does not include the number of Starbucks’ in the suburbs. Yet, the number of mattress stores seems to outnumber the amount of Starbucks’ in Houston. This doesn’t make any sense. Let’s get this straight. Starbucks, which has over hundreds of customers every day, has less stores than say a Mattress Firm, which maybe one hundred people go in within a month. No one will say that it is money laundering causing the number of mattress stores to increase. It is an arguable fact that the owners of most mattress stores are guilty of money laundering. The only reason no one would first guess this is because people are getting something out of it, a mattress. Owners, and this is going out on a limb, have to make themselves look innocent and actually give you what you’re there to get. They won’t see you in the next 10 years so they’re going to make sure you get what you want so you get your mattress.

                The CEO of Mattress Firm, when he was asked the question of, “why are there so many stores?” was stuck on trying to find an answer too. He explained that for every 50,000 people, there is one store. In the Chicago area alone, there are about 235 mattress stores. In other areas, like Houston, there are more than 235 mattress stores alone. It leaves you stumped as you think about the possible reasons as to why on earth there would be this many mattress stores. However, when the idea of money laundering is brought up, you are left to question any other thought you had before. All of the pieces seem to fit right in when thinking about the relationship between mattress stores and money laundering. To reiterate, it is eye opening when you think about the number one hiding spot for money that is not in a bank. Yes, a mattress. Someone who is very familiar with this idea thought they should and did take it to the next level. This means country- wide money hiding in mattress stores here, and maybe there. It will never be traced because it is simply not easily traced. There are hundreds of thousands of mattress stores and not that many people who believe the number one reason for all of them has to do with money laundering.

               To make a long, complicated argument short, mattress stores are an example of a money laundering scam. It may sound steep, and it might be a stretch, but it is actually convincing. There are tons of loose ends that tie together and it only seems logical when all of these loose ends are tied. The fact that there are over 235 mattress stores in the Chicago area alone, makes people wonder how many other stores there could be in bigger cities, or even just more populated areas. It only makes sense for one who is afraid to get caught for money laundering to try and spread out as much of the money they are trying to hide as wide as possible. Like said before, there is no way there is this high of a demand on mattresses, for they are a once in a decade type of purchase. Studies show that there are too many mattress stores, and the CEO of mattress firm himself cannot express or explain himself why there are so many mattress stores, for he was baffled as well. Mattress stores being over built and no one inside of them is sketchy, and is almost proof that this is a money laundering scam.

                A recent article by Trent Hamm explains why he, Hamm himself, hides money underneath his own mattress at home. “I keep a small amount of twenties in my home as my ultimate emergency fund.” See, most people do hide their money in case of emergencies. However, then it is also easy to believe that if there is money in a mattress it is most likely just for emergencies and not money that is being laundered. Many examples in the article such as hurricane Katrina and many other storms which had wiped homes and towns away, along with power and heat and many other living necessities, were reasons to why keeping emergency money in your house would be found as unbeneficial, because it is ruined. However, you could find this as beneficial because you can use this money to leave and go find other shelter for these storms. The point here is that most people wouldn’t suggest that the mattresses in stores were not being used to hold money for emergencies, for they are being sold. In the back of laundry stores, there are empty rooms, with limited mattresses. This is why most times it takes a few days for your mattress to come to you. However, the ones they have the back are the ones easiest to assume that they have money being hidden in them. Once again, a stretch but it makes sense. They want to be as slick as possible so there is no way they can be caught doing this federal crime.

           
Criminals launder money because, well, they can’t spend huge wads of cash at legitimate businesses, or deposit them in banks, without raising a lot of suspicion. Flashing a big roll or spending lavishly without a legitimate source of income is a good way to land in jail. Instead, by operating legitimate businesses that could reasonably receive large amounts of cash (laundromats, car washes, small retail stores, for example), criminals create the appearance of having legal access to the funds they deposit into bank accounts. According to Julia Layton and Oisin Curran, the global effects of this shadow economy are “staggering in social, economic, and security terms.” As the authors make clear, law enforcement,”stretched beyond their means,” are unable to keep up with the illegal activities of criminals who successfully conceal the source of their profits. And the consequence of being able to avoid detection is “more fraud, more corporate embezzling, more drugs on the streets, more drug related crimes.”  It’s no surprise, say Layton and Curran, that “legitimate business people who don’t break the law and don’t make nearly the profits that the criminals do,” are discouraged to see the criminals prosper, apparently without consequence.

The economic effects are a little more confusing to understand. Countries that are in the process of being built often “bear the brunt of modern money laundering” due to the fact that the governments are still in process of “establishing regulations for their newly privatized financial sectors.” An example of this would be in the 90s, when banks from the developing Baltic states had gotten many deposits of “dirty money.” People continued to withdraw their own “clean” money with the fear of maybe losing it if the bank were to go under investigation. This would result in insurance being lost. As a result, the banks did end up collapsing. “Massive influxes of dirty cash into particular areas of the economy that are desirable to money launderers create false demand, and officials act on this new demand by adjusting economic policy.” This is jaw dropping. The words, “create false demand,” make so much sense when talking about mattress stores. The owners have enough money to keep the stores open, but end up having no customers because there shouldn’t be such high demand on mattresses, and there isn’t. It is a false demand, and it is easy to believe this, along with the fact that the owners are money launderers.

The local problems are easier to understand, and can affect people personally. Problems like this can relate to an include taxation, and “small- business competition.” When money is laundered, it is usually not taxed. This ultimately means that people who do not launder money, have to make up for the taxes that are not written off, make up the loss in tax revenue. Real, legit small business do not have the ability to compete with money laundering front businesses who can afford to sell a product for cheaper because they do not have the purpose to make a profit, their purpose is to simply clean the money. The amount of cash they have in these businesses is more than most so they might even have the ability to be able to sell a product below cost.

There are many consequences to money laundering, some in which can affect people that have no business in money laundering. It is unfair to the people that don’t. However, this can open our eyes to the fact that many businesses can in fact be money laundering and we, as people who do not launder money, have to make up for it. Many of these reasons and consequences can all route back to mattress stores. They could just be one of the guiltiest businesses for a crime like this. The way they tie hand in hand, mattress stores and money laundering, is jaw dropping and eye opening.

Mattress stores being money laundering scams is easy to believe when all of the facts are presented. After explaining this idea to many people, they were very surprised. This idea is easily believed and people are very impressed with the ideas that are fed to them. The argument I hear most is, “How do you know?” and “Why don’t I hear anything about this?” There is a simple answer for this, they are successful. Money launderers who are successful, they continue to money launder. These people never get caught so it is actually very unlikely to hear anything of this if these money launderers are, in fact, successful. The main reason people hold this money is so they do not have to put it in the bank and be deemed as “suspicious.” However, when you want to hide money, but not have any trace of it, old fashioned people usually have the tendency to hide it in their mattresses. The person in charge of this could be old fashioned, and think their idea of hiding it in a mattress is clever. It is, however, should be and soon will be discovered.

                Money laundering would, for most, be hard to understand because it is not commonly detected. It is not a crime like murder, robbery, or rape. Furthermore, it is a crime of motive more than activity. This is why people do not believe this accusation to be true. For example, two people could be doing the exact same thing, and one could be charged for money laundering and one could not. If there is money laundering happening somewhere where someone is actually getting something out of it, there is no denying that anyone wouldn’t say anything about these money laundering scams even if they were suspicious. It is not a popular idea, but it is not completely false either. The way to argue back with people who do not believe the idea of mattress stores being money laundering scams because they deem it as “false” or “too much of a stretch,” is to tell them the facts that aren’t really facts because this idea has not been yet proven true. We cannot say it is false but we cannot say it is true. However, we can prove it to be more true than false. There are more points to argue that this idea is true.

                The question we are all left to wonder after hearing the points on how this idea could be true is, “Why still are there so many stores? Why still is there no one inside?” Like said numerous times, a mattress is a once in a decade purchase, and people every so often are going to need a mattress store. However, there shouldn’t be this much demand on mattresses. There shouldn’t be these many stores within a hundred-foot radius of each other. Once again, they have the money to keep these stores open with the limited number of customers they get each day. The way they have this money, you might be wondering, is from the amount of money they are laundering inside of these stores. The sales on the window is so they draw you in and take your money. They don’t want to look too desperate for money. They want more so they can hide more, but with sale signs to draw you in, they will sooner than later meet their money goal.

                Many people do in fact wonder how these people do not get caught so quickly. From much research, it is not hard, but it is also not easy to track a person involved in money laundering. People who are involved in money laundering are actually very smart and can think of ways to safely, quickly, and secretly clean their money without, obviously, getting caught. People who look for money launderers are looking between the hours of 9 to 5. However, people who do in fact money launder are schemers, and try to work after hours to clean their money so they have less of a chance of getting caught. They always try to find new techniques to “put old wine in new bottles.” To explain, they try and take this dirty money, and make it look like it is not suspicious nor dirty. The whole idea of money laundering is actually a lot more serious and thrilling to someone who is a money launderer rather than a law enforcement employee or a banker.

                Money launderers, like said before, are actually some of the smartest people. They use many tactics to get away with this crime. Some tactics include the idea of “trade based” money laundering. This actually is when smaller companies make money and give it to their parent company after the money is made and the parent company launders it. This, in terms of mattress stores could mean this. Let’s say Mattress Firm is the parent company, and there are many, smaller non-branch mattress stores that are working for Mattress Firm. For example, we know of Mattress Factory and The Mattress Place. These two smaller stores can be teamed up with Mattress Firm and have sales and signs just like Mattress Firm so that they could make more money for the parent company to essentially launder.

                It used to be a lot easier for money launderers to launder money, and now, after 9-11, when money launderers used to be able to put money through commercial banks no problem, it is a lot harder to deposit certain amounts of money without it being looked at as suspicious. Today, it is not nearly as easy, so that’s why it has become much harder to find and stop a money launderer. Money launderers have now moved from commercial banks, who now are more secure and aware of their deposits, to smaller corporations who won’t question the transaction. There could be many things a person could say to argue against the fact that mattress stores are money laundering scams, but actually, it is quite easy to persuade these people because there are so many facts to prove this idea true.

References:

Reuter, Peter, and Edwin M. Truman. “Chasing Dirty Money: The Fight Against Money Laundering.” Google Books, Nov. 2004, books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=0AVwjC9TDSMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=money%2Blaundering%2B&ots=v4Msj-C2Rd&sig=9KHesretWcyK0Vcdza2L1xJOlWA#v=onepage&q=money%20laundering&f=false.

Dion, Michel. “Is Money Laundering an Ethical Issue?” Journal of Money Laundering Control, 2015, http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JMLC-06-2014-0018.

Gilmour, Nicholas. “Everyday Vulnerabilities – Money Laundering through Cash Intensive Businesses.” Journal of Money Laundering Control, 2015, http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JMLC-06-2014-0019.

Gilmour, Nicholas. “Understanding the Practices behind Money Laundering – A Rational Choice Interpretation.” International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, Elsevier, 29 Mar. 2015, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756061615000385.

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