Treasury Department officials have ordered thousands of money-service businesses nationwide to register with the federal government to enable law enforcement to spot potential money launderers.
Officials at Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said the firms, which provide wire transfers, currency exchanges and check cashing, number 5,000 to 8,000 and range from storefront businesses to Western Union.
All will be required to submit information about their owners and keep lists of their outlets, identifying which ones handled more than $100,000 in transactions in the previous 12 months.
Failure to register will be punishable by a $5,000-a-day fine and up to five years in prison.
Current rules require the money-service businesses to keep records of all transactions over $3,000 and to report to authorities all transactions over $10,000.