FinCEN Issues Warning on Illicit Fentanyl Scams

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network today issued an advisory to financial institutions on illicit financial schemes related to the trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. The advisory is intended to help banks detect and report illicit activity that is perpetuating the ongoing opioid crisis.

The advisory highlights the primary typologies and red flags of opioid-related activity, noting that fentanyl trafficking in the U.S. typically follows one of two pathways: direct purchase of fentanyl from China or cross-border trafficking through Mexico. The predominant trafficking patterns include—among others—purchases from a foreign source of supply made using money services businesses, bank transfers or online payment processors; purchases from a foreign source of supply made using convertible virtual currency, such as bitcoin; and purchases from a U.S. source of supply using an MSB, online payment processor, virtual currency or person-to-person sales.