I just saw The Bank Job over the weekend. Good movie, apparently based upon a real story. Of course that got my thieving mind going and I started to wonder…what do you do with the loot?
Sure in 1971 maybe you could live with a pile of cash and as long as you kept your normal lifestyle, you might get away with it. But what would you do today? Given this story in Technology Review about how banks and financial institutions have automatic software that looks for any activity out of the ordinary and flags it for review, what do you do with your money then?
Suppose I pull off some kind of robbery, and get away with…oh let’s say 3 million in cash. How would you go about putting that money into any sort of usable place? I don’t want to go on the lamb and live in some country where nobody will blink twice about me pulling out a wad of $100 bills every time I buy a coke or something. I have a wife, kids, and a nice house. So I want to stay where I am, but have the money available for a nice vacation now and then, maybe a nice classic car or so. Things that I probably could buy on my own, if I didn’t have to worry about saving or anything.
I could lay low and leave the money buried for a year or two till things die down a bit, but then what? I suppose I could come up with a way of getting at least some of it out of the country…but even if I do show up at a bank in Zurich with a suitcase full of money and they don’t blink at opening me up an account. How do I use that money back here in the states? I can’t just wire transfer it, or that will set off those monitoring software programs. Does the Bank of Zurich offer a Visa Debit card I can use?
So, my fellow larcenous dopers, what do you do after you get away with the crime?
Well the easiest way that I can think of would be to wait a couple of months and then quit your job. Go to a bank and get a small business loan to open a consulting firm. The money from the heist could then be paid to you from your “clients” sure you’d have to pay taxes on it but it would be clean. So you don’t raise suspicion I would start of with small amounts and increase the payments slowly over time and possibly mix in some real clients to make it even less suspicious but 3 mil would be reasonable to launder this way in probably 10 years which would still give a decent living.
Couldn’t you just pay cash for everything? Cashiers, even in convenience stores, are used to people insisting on paying with high denomination bills (often even when you can see they have a five right there!) People get paid in cash. People cash their checks. Some people live without a bank altogether. Drug dealers (to use a common complaint from another forum) aren’t the only ones with wads of hundreds. You can just be the weird guy that doesn’t trust banks.
Oredigger77 but wouldn’t it raise some flags that all you ever paid the loan with is cash? I make a pretty decent salary, and I no matter what kind of fake customers I make up, I still have a pile of cash that I would have to deposite to make payments.
Silver Tyger Girl that’s what the wife suggested, just pay cash for all the little things we buy, but I doubt that adds up to more than $400 to $500 a month. Most of our large bills are at institutions that I couldn’t pay cash to. Can’t send my car payment in as cash or make a mortgage payment that way.
Could you buy another car cash, then sell or return the one with the payments, thus ending the payments? Same with the house?
I’m thinking that maybe six months after a successful bank job, I’d fake a nervous breakdown or a new job or something, quit my existing job, then move across the country. And then just run my new life in cash.
Maybe if I lived someplace where large cash transactions like that are normal, possibly I could do that Sunspace. But I’m in Tidewater Virginia. I’m pretty sure that plopping down $25K in cash would create a huge stir at my local dealership. I’m not even sure they’d take it. And I’m almost positive it’d be on the evening news.
And I don’t know how moving across country would be any better. How would you buy a house? I suppose you could just rent, but then I’m not even maintaining my current lifestyle. You could probably get a decent used car for cash and not raise too many eyebrows, but a nice new car? Maybe in one of the big money areas of the country that might work.
Open an eBay store with the things you buy at BestBuy. Places like that wouldn’t be surprised that you would buy with cash. “Oooh, I’ve been saving up for this for a long time…” That turns paper money into electronic money. And they don’t take your personal information when you buy with cash. Or you could buy antiques and sell them on eBay. Sure you’d take a hit, but a 20% or so loss wouldn’t be a bad price to pay to launder the money.
Sure you can - money order or cashier’s check. I have a friend who lived without a bank for several years (he killed his credit and was basically hiding from the bill collectors until the statute of limitations passed). Yeah, you have to pay a fee, but if you have that much extra money, what’s a couple extra bucks? Just make up a semi-plausible cover story about why you don’t trust banks anymore.
Take a cruise to the Cayman Islands or to Bermuda, or even Barbados (I can’t remember if they have strong banking laws in there or not) and open a bank account and set up a corporation there. Open dummy corporations (consulting is your main business) and have those business pay your business all funneling from some mysterious corporation in the Caribbean. Your United States Corporation (the one you work for) will be in Delaware. You’re going to need a really good accountant. Use Quicken to set up the paper trail that has the corporations send invoices to each other. Lastly, gamble a lot, especially on a cruise or off shore somewhere. Then, you will be able to have a legitimate reason to physically move and wire money around. it will take some time, but I’m guessing three years at the most. That’s how my company does it (to some extent.) Part of my job is to cover the overflow from the finance lawyers and help monitor/audit their transactions.
The Cruise bit is probably the best, because I really doubt you’d run into a lot of security like you would in an airport. And if that was a problem, charter a boat to take you there on your own. Nobody is going to check your bags on your way off the dock, right?
Just curious, where are the countries that would routinely allow you to open a bank account “no questions asked?” Switzerland would be a bad choice, I believe, because you’d then need to pass through several countries first.
Maybe the way to do it would be to go to some country where it would be easy to bribe local officials? It’d probably be better for larger sums of money…
I don’t know if there are areas where you would be able to open accounts “no questions asked”, but obviously there are jurisdictions with less comprehensive financial controls. Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Lebanon & Russia occur off the top of my head.
Obviously, you could leave your money in these low-regulation jurisdictions - but if you wanted to buy property or assets in the US (or Canada, UK, etc) you need to transfer the funds, and money transfers from these areas are subject to greater scrutiny - documentary evidence of the source of funds is asked for (You sold a property/boat/whatever? Ok, can you fax me a copy of a completion statement/bill of sale/invoice, etc. please?)
If this documentation isn’t forthcoming, or is suspect, the funds would probably be rejected and a report submitted to the local financial regulator and police financial crime unit for further investigation.
Incidentally, information about any such investigations and/or reports is held separately from any standard notes your banking institution may hold for you - and is exempt from Freedom of Information acts.
I’m thinking moving to the Vegas area would be in order. Hit many of the casinos buying up chips in 1000-5000 dollar lots. Gamble a bit of it and walk out with the rest. Do this for a year and then start cashing in chips in 10,000-20,000 dollars at a time. Enough that they’d do the IRS reporting and collecting. Yes, you do have to return chips to the casino you originally bought them from. And not use the cards they give you to track your gambling patterns and wins/losses.
That would be the key. Traceable bills would be a bit of a pain, although moving them overseas would take care of most of that. Otherwise, I’d probably do the Vegas trick. If you kept it below $5000 grand or so at each casino, you could launder the whole batch over a couple of years with no problems. For that matter, gamble more than a bit with some of the cash. If you manage to win a bit, you can mix in your stolen lot with the gambling winnings. It’s not like they give you a form for table games. Just play for a week, then declare $100,000 in winnings on that year’s 1040. Legal, legit and everybody’s happy because you paid your taxes.