Statisticians report that money laundering is difficult to measure due to its clandestine nature. This makes it difficult to produce numbers on regions, but the UN department responsible for money laundering reports that between 2 and 5% of the global GDP (up to 1.87 trillion euros) is laundered each year.
To understand smurfing and money mules entirely, it helps to look at real-life cases. A particularly interesting case of smurfing occurred in Australia between 2013 and 2015.
Delania Marvella Marundrury, a makeup artist from India studying in Australia, was receiving money transfers from her mother in Indonesia to her Australian bank account. The money was transferred via an exchanging service in Indonesia which offered lower rates than most.
Marundrury was unaware that the amounts sent by her mother were not reaching her bank account directly. Instead, the fraudulent exchange service was making deposits of less than $10,000. This is the limit before an amount must be investigated by an outside party in Australia.
Once she realized what was happening, Marundrury seeked financial reparations from her bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, however CBA requested to have the case thrown out of court because their anti-money laundering laws do not obligate them to pay damages.
This is what makes smurfing for unsuspecting individuals so dangerous. Once you are incriminated in the scheme, you may be already beyond protection from the law and may owe thousands or even be expected to serve jail time.