Laundering 101: Don’t use paycheck from NY Islanders


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In a word: Awkward. In a sentence: Not very smart. It doesn’t take a great KYC solution to follow the money when the money is literally a $230,000 paycheck from the New York Islanders. The check, written to NHL forward Thomas Vanek when he played for the Islanders and endorsed by Vanek, turned up in a gambling and money-laundering operation run by Mark Ruff and two others.

Vanek, who has not been implicated in the money laundering, did testify to a grand jury about his gambling debts to Ruff, who is expected to receive a 9-year sentence under a plea deal. According to reports, Vanek owed the bookmaker over a million dollars from failed football betting.

Ruff himself did not identify Vanek but rather described the source of the check as a gambler needing to cover his debts. Vanek, who now plays for the Minnesota Wild, has acknowledged that he testified as a government witness to the Grand Jury and that the check was his to cover debts owed to Ruff.

According to the FBI, Ruff attempted to pass the check  to another man to deposit so that Ruff and his associates could access the deposit from checks written from a credit line and from cash withdrawals,  a process intended to launder the the illegal gambling proceeds back to Ruff.

Ruff and his alleged gambling conspirators are accused of running an illegal sports-gambling operation that took advantage of offshore internet gambling sites. According to authorities, the Ruff operation accepted wagers of more than $76 million total in the last two years.