Money laundering is a white-collar crime that involves moving cash around to hide its origin. FATF explains dirty money that comes from crime cannot go immediately into circulation from the hands of the criminals because it is too easy to trace.
For this reason, any attempt to hide or transfer money that is not through traditional means may appear to be money laundering.
Many crimes can make a lot of money for people. But suddenly having large amounts of cash without a clear origin can grab the attention of authorities and land a person on law enforcement’s radar. This is where money laundering originated. People can take the money they earn illegally and send it through legitimate means to give it a fake origin.
To launder money, a person may move it through a legitimate business. Instead of going to the bank and getting the money for the day’s register, they would put dirty money into it. That money would then go in and out of the business as they serve customers. Another thing they could do is use it to buy supplies for the business.
Money laundering can also occur by moving money around to different bank accounts. Using offshore accounts is a common practice. Or changing money from one currency to another can also be part of the process.
Because the whole idea is to conceal origins, anything that would be moving money around could attract attention as money laundering. Even if you are not doing anything illegal, you could still land under suspicion of this crime.