I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and he was telling me how some organized criminals use rather obvious company names to 'clean' their proceeds of crime. The companies are usually shell companies with a few clients but with a very big balance sheet.

An example of such a business is a company that deals with building and construction. Such a company is given the name building and construction limited, which is rather obvious for what they do.

When i want to describe such a company to someone, will i say that company has an obvious name or how can i put it to say that the company has an obvious name since what they do is captured in their registered name while at the same time not confusing people who may not understand what i mean by 'obvious' since its not very obvious what the company run by crooks is actually up to?.

  • 1
    I would say that the company has a generic name. "characteristic of or relating to a class or group of things; not specific.".
    – Nigel J
    Apr 23, 2018 at 16:06
  • "generic" is good... if you don't know that term or if you are afraid that those you are talking to don't know it, perhaps saying they have a 'plain name' or 'standard sounding name' might help. "Generic" is pretty common and a word any business person should know.
    – Tom22
    Apr 23, 2018 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


Such companies with innocent/sincere sounding names which are used as a cover to sinister operations are called fronts.


front NOUN
3.1 A person or organization serving as a cover for subversive or illegal activities.

‘His company, which legitimately produced a low level of budget films, was also a front for the illegal operation.’

  • 1
    +1 I think you figured out what OP was looking for.
    – Jim
    Apr 23, 2018 at 18:37

A shell company which uses a company name that is not really specific to that company but merely describes the kind of business they are in has taken a generic name.

Characteristic of or relating to a class or type of objects, phenomena, etc.; applicable to a large group or class, or any member of it; not specific, general. Also: characteristic of or relating to the use of language, as generic name, term, word, etc. Frequently opposed to specific.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.