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This is the third publication of the National Money Laundering Risk Assessment (NMLRA) since the inaugural publication in 2015. The Department of the Treasury is publishing it during a transformative time for crime with increasing cybercrime complaints from the public exceeding $4.1 billion in 2020, a proliferation of ransomware attacks holding hostage sensitive information and demanding payment from U.S. citizens and businesses, and a growing overdose crisis that has killed over 100,000 citizens in a one-year period, quadrupling over the last decade, largely driven by synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Fundamentally, money laundering is a necessary consequence of almost all profit-generating crimes. Money laundering remains a significant concern because it facilitates and conceals crime and can distort markets and the broader financial system. The United States is particularly vulnerable to all forms of illicit finance because of the size of the U.S. financial system and the centrality of the U.S. dollar in the payment infrastructure supporting global trade. Criminals and professional money launderers continue to use a wide variety of methods and techniques, including traditional ones, to place, move, and attempt to conceal illicit proceeds. These range from the traditional use of cash to the purchase of luxury or high-value goods, to the ever-evolving world of virtual assets and related service providers, including decentralized finance and the growing use of anonymity-enhancement technologies.