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Money Laundering and Mattress Stores Go Hand in Hand

Typically, 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. When driving past a mattress store, it is easy to notice the big signs covering the windows promoting a sale. Behind those signs, it is rare that there is anyone inside. People are left to question why there are so many stores if there is rarely anyone in there. This leaves many to wonder, how is there such high demand on mattress if it’s a purchase made, say, once every decade. Many people know that if a person has a lot of cash and they don’t want to put it in the bank, usually, they’d put it under a mattress for hiding or safe keepings. There have been many people who have explained why exactly they leave their money under a mattress. However, it’s easy to assume why mattress store owners do it. The assumption includes, 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 take part in money laundering scams.

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 within the house would be found as unbeneficial, because it is ruined. However, some could find this as beneficial because they 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 the customer. 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,” avoid detection 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 cam 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.

References:

Layton, Julia, and Oisin Curran. “How Money Laundering Works.” HowStuffWorks, 1 June 2006, https://money.howstuffworks.com/money-laundering5.htm

Hamm, Trent. “Why I Keep Cash Under My Mattress.” The Simple Dollar, 1 Nov. 2018, http://www.thesimpledollar.com/why-i-keep-cash-under-my-mattress/.

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