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HMRC internal manual

Money Laundering Regulations: Compliance

Trust or Company Service Providers (TCSPS): "Mailbox" companies and Money Laundering risks

All these businesses enter into a business relationship with their clients due to the on-going nature of the relationship. The risk posed by the clients of these businesses is that they may set up companies for criminal purposes using false identities. They have a safe address where they can receive mail, which has no connection with where they live and it therefore helps them avoid detection. Using a “mailbox” facility is often a vital component in mail, phone or email scams carried out by fraudsters soliciting money for non-existent goods or services. Additionally the use of a sophisticated virtual office package projects an aura of prosperity which could be useful to criminals planning a crime involving deception.

Areas of risk that have been identified are.

* In addition to official post from sources such as banks, government departments etc, the client is in receipt of “unofficial” post and may be operating a business via the mailbox address. This may be an indication that the mailbox provider is being exploited for fraudulent purposes. Large volumes of unofficial post, possibly containing cheques may be an indication of a mail, phone or email scam being operated.
* Mailbox services have been bought by a company where the directors are either nominees or based offshore.