When I hear the term "money laundering", I usually think back to the hit AMC drama Breaking Bad. In the later seasons of the show, the main character is forced to launder millions of dollars through multiple fake businesses including, but not limited to a car wash, laser tag arena, and a literal laundromat.

$100 Bills hung up on a drying rack
Credit: Canva

This paved way for the public idea of how criminal money is laundered, but real life can be far more sinister.

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Empowerment Scholarship Account Program

The ESA program has been active in Arizona for more of a decade. The program gives vouchers to families that allows them to utilize public taxpayer funds to cover educational dues. The program is available to all Arizona students K-12 regardless of their family's income.

Woman filing taxes
Credit: Canva

This system was advertised to be airtight, only supplying funds to families with children and requiring proper paperwork to receive the benefits.

Turns out it wasn't that airtight.

The Fraud

Noticing the possibility for free, easy money, five Arizona residents began concocting a plan. The five created fake families, some with real children and some with "ghost" children, or persons that do not exist.

Kids dressed up in ghost costumes
Credit: Canva

These children (or rather the idea of them) were used to withdrawal funds from the ESA account. They created fake disabilities for the children as well to guarantee a larger payout.

Once finished, the group has stolen upwards of $600,000 from the program, which may I remind you, is made up exclusively of taxpayer dollars.

Cartoonish looking burglar
Credit: Canva

The five are meant to stand trial soon, and will hopefully be forced to reimburse the money they stole from not just Arizona residents, but from the children who really needed it.

Arizona: Remove These 9 Items From Your Wallet or Purse Immediately!

If you want to stay safe when you're traveling or shopping, here are nine items you should remove from your wallet or purse right now:

Gallery Credit: Val Davidson

It Costs HOW MUCH? 11 Things That Are Suddenly Too Expensive in Arizona

From products we use every day to services we've come to rely on, inflation is making everything too expensive in Arizona and around the country.

Arizonans are making do where they can, crossing off things they can't afford, and settling for less whenever possible. There are some things we just can't do without.

How many have you crossed off your list?

Gallery Credit: Val Davidson/TSM

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