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  Transaction figures supplied by NCIS
  18,000 suspicious financial transactions were reported in the UK in 2001
 
   
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    Transparency International
 
 
    National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS)
 
 
    HM customs and excise
 
 
    Financial Action Task Force
 
 
     
 
 
  They claimed that they were exchanging sterling originally taken by tourists to Israel and Spain and bringing it back to the UK for exchange in to US dollars.

However, officers in the UK observed the movements of people visiting the business premises. Together with German law enforcement, they tracked three of them sitting separately, aboard a flight to Columbia.

Customs notified police in Bogotá and when the plane arrived in Columbia, one of the three was stopped and searched. US $900,000 was found packed and sealed in to a vest under his shirt.

Other laundering and fraud techniques are not so tangible and the difficulty for police is chasing money across different jurisdictions.

In Nigeria, the "4-1-9 letter", named after the relevant section of the Criminal Code, is a familiar form of fraud. It asks people to lend their bank accounts on the understanding that they will receive a share of the funds.

The offer usually involves the promise of the transfer of millions of pounds for various reasons including paper currency conversion, real estate ventures, business investment, a legacy or simple fraud - into your personal bank account.

Throughout the fraud, the recipient is asked to provide advance fees for taxes, legal fees, transaction fees or bribes.

Frequently recipients of the letter, who agree to enter in to the contract, will arrange to meet the sender to make personal contact.

They are often impressed and reassured when a well-dressed man in a smart office meets them. Later they discover that the office actually belongs to someone who was away for the day and any names or signs have been temporarily changed for their visit.

In the last three years, Britain's National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), working closely with the Post Office and the police, has legally withdrawn 78,000 letters in London alone.

On the basis of these letters, NCIS estimates the potential loss to the UK economy from 4-1-9 will be as high as £150 million in the coming year.
 
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