I recently learned that one of the only reasons people collect or buy **stamps[/]b is because, as far as valuables go, they are extremely small, not as conspicuous as jewlery or gems, and millions of dollars of them can be hidden in a wallet or pages of a book while traveling(i.e. through a metal detector). Newer currencies are made with thin metal ribbon embedded in it that sets off metal detectors when transported in large quantities.
Often during times of war, wealthy people will sell all of their possesions and buy stamps, then move to a safer area and resell them to a stamp dealer, generally at the same price they had bought them. Stamps usually maintain their value while the price of other valuables(i.e. gold) tends to fluctuate. I had always wondered why stamp and coin stores were located in the fancier parts of a metropolis, now I know.
For curiosity’s sake, are there any other way to transport large sums of money?
In Sweden the police is having trouble with motorcycle gangs who laundry their money by buying lottery tickets from people who have won and so claiming tax-free and legal money.
Well, first things first.
We will not be having a tutorial on money-laundering in this forum.
Also, your story just doesn’t have the ring of truth of it. Stamp collecting is characterized by lots of relatively low-value items and a small number of high-value items.
On the high-value items, liquidity is low and bid-asked spreads are fairly wide.
This seems like a horrible way to move money or serve as a store of value.
Do you have a cite?
Just out of curiosity, what factors are key in determining a particular stamp’s price? That is, assuming equally scarce stamps, what will make one more desirable than others in the mind of the majority of collectors?
All you need to know about philately.
http://www.americanphilatelic.org/ and http://www.usstamps.org/ and http://stamps.about.com/
To address the OP, umm, no. I find that highly unlikely for a couple reasons. One, as manhattan has said, a stamp collection typically consists of many low value items and a few with a high value. This is simply because there really aren’t many stamps that are worth a large amount of money. Second, attempting to accumulate a quantity of high value stamps is going to take quite some time; it’ll also attract quite a bit of attention to the purchaser.
Maybe somebody’s currencies are, but not the Almighty Dollar:
Were magnetic strips put in U.S. currency so the feds could track your money? (saith the Master: “No.”)
Of course, any really large amount of cash money will be sort of bulky, and easily discovered by inquisitive customs agents. But it won’t set off a metal detector.
My mother knows a stamp dealer who makes his living by flying all over the world and buying stamps dirt cheap at estate auctions and sales and selling them for their going rate. It is slightly unethical(he’s an Aussie so it makes sense ), since he could look at a collection and spot all the “money” stamps right off, whereas the children of the original owner of the stamps would have no idea what they are actually worth. If he were a man of God he might do them a favor by offering free estimation, but everyone has to make a living somehow, and if they are on the auction block, it’s fair game.
The Aussie is slightly enamoured with my mother and may have embellished the nature of his job a bit, but he is very successful and I accepted what he said as truth. I apologize for stating it so matter of factly, instead of as a question, but it seems plausable.
I will attempt to consult him further on this issue. You know how those Aussies loooove a good probing.
What you are describing is speculation, not money movements. He is counting on his expertise to gain an edge in the marketplace, not simply moving existing money.
You are also engaged in ridiculous national stereotyping. You will not do that in General Questions and hope to keep your membership.
Consider this a formal warning. Do not do that again.
Your description of what your mother’s friend does, is totally different than what you were asking in your OP. I’d also suggest that most operators of estate auctions probably have a pretty good idea of the value of collectibles of any nature, be they stamps, coins, antiques, or anything else. After all, many of them work on commission and would certainly like to maximize their profits, for the sellers and themselves.
Not sure what the question is, but some observations:
a) There are plenty of non-cash stores of value, whether gotten legally or otherwise. High-end stamps are certainly one.
b) I sincerely doubt that high-end stamps fluctuate in price less than gold or other more standard commodities. In fact, because the market is so much smaller for high-end stamps then gold (for example), I would think they would be far less liquid and far less stable than gold. Of course, they are more portable.
c) U.S. Money doesn’t contain metal strips for tracking.
d) There is nothing unethical about buying something from someone at a rate they agree upon.
What I was suggesting is that, since he is a professional stamp dealer, he is likely to be familiar with the “in’s and out’s” of his profession. Manhattan specifically asked for a cite, which I am unable to provide, so I simply stated where I had recieved my information.
Also, [v]Unclebeer**, that is the way he described his job to me, but we only lightly touched on that aspect of his profession. Who knows, he may also work as a consultant to the operators of the estate auctions.
Sorry Aussies for being so crass.
Let me rephrase the OP: Is it true that people use stamps to move or launder large amounts of money?
I use a heavy abrasive and a wuart of bleach per 5 gallons of water. Sandblasting sand is a good additive.
Put this mixture and all your coins in a large oil barrel and roll it down a hill.
I would be interested in doing a money laundering discussion at your discretion.
I think it would be a net positive, discussing how it’s done, and why the government will be on your ass faster than flyshit if you even try.
Attempting to respect manhattan’s dictums, I will add the following $0.02 in response to the original question:
Why would you need to use stamps to do this?
Most money laundering is either in the form of cash (United States currency, please (cite)) or electronic transfer (other cite). Use of other items of value just makes the process of laundering more difficult.
Here is an attempt to make the point that “buying stamps” is not necessarily laundering in the illegal sense of the word, or describe a case where it may be honorable.
Hypothetical Situation One:
[li]Nazi Germany, 1935. You are a Jewish businessman who is extremely wealthy and you wish to leave Germany but will be ruthlessly taxed on any valuables you wish to bring with you. You find a German stamp dealer who is not necessarily a Nazi sympathizer, moreso only in it for the cash. He gives you a reasonable rate for your valubales in the form of stamps. You leave the country with all of your monetary possessions in your wallet. This clearly does not fall under the definition of laundering, basically because you are trying to evade an oppressive government.[/li][/ul]
Hypothetical Situation Two:
[li]Hawaii, 2001. You are an marijuana cultivator. Last season’s harvest netted you $150,000 dollars worth of cash. You wish to transport your earnings to the mainland but any computer transaction would draw unnecessary attention. You buy $150,000 worth of stamps and take the next flight to LA. Once there you resell them to another stamp dealer and collect your cash. Clearly an instance of laundering, because you are trying to evade the American government, who is…um…unoppressive.[/li][/ul]
Contrary to what is being suggested, stamps are not what you would call a “liquid asset.”
Like most retail items, there is significant markup. When you buy from a dealer you pay retail, when you sell back the dealer only pays wholesale.
This difference is called “profit,” and it’s what keeps the store proprietor in business.
The much more likely scenario is that intrepid but not too smart guanja smuggler converts his $150,000 into stamps at store A in Hawaii. The dealer is more than happy to give a hefty discount seeing as you are now his best customer ever! He is having his best day ever! and you have just put his kids through college.
Slighly yon intrepid smuggler walks causally aboard the airplane with his stamps secretly concealed between the pages of his “High Times” magazine while “Smuggler’s Blues” plays ironically on his MP3 player.
Back in the states our eager young entrepeneur sidles casually into his local stamp collector’s store telling a clever story about needing to “cash out” his exclusive colection.
A careful appraisal nets him somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000.
Perhaps he gets as much as $40,000 - $50,000 if he’s been particularly wise or the proprietor in Hawaii was unusually generous.
Stamps seem to be a fairly bad way to move large sums of money without attracting attention. I have acquaintances that collect stamps. They subscribe to a big magazine/catalog that has a really large list of stamps that have some value. As has been pointed out there are not a lot of these that would be useful for moving large sums of money. There are very few people who would be interested in buying these stamps and they are all sort of clubby. Plus the really high value ones tend to be purchased at auction. Where coughing up 100K in cash would raise eyebrows which seems to me to be what you are trying to avoid.
Lets take your example. 150K in Hawaii you pop over to the one of maybe five of six stamp collecting stores and try and buy 30K of stamps at each one. I imagine you going into the stores and saying “Hello, I want $30K worth of good quality stamps here is $30K in cash.” and so on for the next 4 stores. Do you think that these guys don’t talk with each other? Even if they don’t you are acting weird spending $30K on stamps without being able to talk knowledgeably about the stamps. Selling them is probably easier I can imagine that stamp stores might get in people who experience financial difficulties and need to sell their collection.
I would ship the money in a box via UPS. If you send it the day you are going to leave Hawaii you will even be there to pick it up. This seems much less risky than trusting that a bunch of stamp collectors are not going to talk about you and decide that there is something fishy going on and contact the police.
Plus you still have not laundered the money. You have a bunch of cash that you can’t point to a legal reason for you having.
Your best bet is to stick to untraceable barer bonds.
Are barer bonds even a real financial instrument?
wishbone, I don’t think “money laundering” means what you think it does. Here is a page with a good easy-reading description: http://www.aci.net/kalliste/part33.htm
Also, this page has some more good info: http://www.oecd.org/fatf/MLaundering_en.htm
Not the ideal exchange rate. Probably the “intrepid but not too smart ganja dealer” would be better off buying the whole store(and maybe one on the mainland) and selling the stamps anynonymously to himself or a courier without a markup. Unless of course the IRS audits him and wonders how in tar nation he could afford to buy the store in the first place. Back to the “exclusive collection story.”
By the way, that first cite I put a couple of posts up has a nonsense-political angle at the end, but ignore that for this discussion.