Smurf

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DEFINITION of 'Smurf'

Colloquial term for a money launderer. Also refers to one who seeks to evade scrutiny from government agencies by breaking up a transaction involving a large amount of money into smaller transactions that are below the reporting threshold. The term is derived from the cartoon characters known as The Smurfs.

BREAKING DOWN 'Smurf'

In order to prevent money laundering by criminals involved in illegal activities that involve large sums of cash, such as drugs and extortion, countries like the United States and Canada require that a currency transaction report be filed by a financial institution handling a transaction that exceeds $10,000 in cash. Therefore, a criminal group with $50,000 in cash to launder may use several smurfs to deposit anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000 in a number of accounts that are geographically dispersed. This would be below the reporting threshold.

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