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  1. J-Zatoro

    J-Zatoro New Member

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    Fastest way to take money out of the country?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by J-Zatoro, Jun 22, 2017.

    Hi, I'm a newbie. I'm in the early stages of brainstorming a story for fun, and have many doubts. It's not a serious story, but I like to be accurate if I can be helped.

    The main characters have stolen a large sum of money (say 10-20m but it's undecided) from a legally questionable institution: A private club that holds auctions of rare items such as vintage wine, original paintings, illegal pets, etc. This club could still report the main characters to the police (despite having illegal items), and some members could have connections in major airlines.

    They're trying to get out of the US and go to some island in the Caribbean. I haven't decided a time period yet, but it could be anytime between 1960 to 2002.

    What would be the best way to get out? I kinda don't want them to just take a plane and leave... but if it seems like the easiest way, why wouldn't they do it?

    I made some calculations based on 1993, and tried to gather some info on why they wouldn't be able to do X or Y. Please correct me if I'm wrong:
    • $10m in 100-dollar-bills straps would weigh 100kg, roughly 6890 cubic inches
    • $10m in gold ('93) would weigh 950kg!!! roughly 3000 cubic inches.
    • Western Union money order limit is $500 current day (probably less in '93, maybe $200)
    • Travelers cheques would be too suspicious, I don't know what the limit is
    • Would buying diamonds/gemstones be too cumbersome? Would they lose a big % in reselling? Who would they sell it when they get to the island? It could end up with someone with connections to the club they stole from
    • If they stole a valuable item (like vintage wine) instead of money, how would they get rid of it on the island? Same issue as the point above
    • Airport customs ask that you declare currency/valuables of over $10k, but it seems they won't stop you from bringing it abroad? Does it get reported to the police for risk of money laundering or other illegal activities? IF we're going with the money, it'd be 2 suitcases full of money... That wouldn't fly, right?
    I'm kinda leaning towards having the characters keep it in cash form, driving to a container terminal (where they have a friend), and get in a common cargo ship to get to the island. Is that very silly? or unfeasible? I'm open to changing the year.

    Towards the end of the story, despite their plan, they end up losing most of the money anyway and only have about 100-300k remaining. At this point, would it be better to fly or stick to the ship plan?

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  2. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    They'd take a private boat out to their desired island. That's the easiest, quietest way for them to do it. They'd have to plan it out, of course, and it'd be expensive, but assuming they can find an unscrupulous captain they can just sail out without ever having to go through customs etc. They just need to find a quiet place to land at the island and walk off with their bags of loot. The best way to move without being noticed is to use the ways that we simply don't watch. There's so much legitimate traffic through the sea lanes that it's almost impossible to watch them anyway so we kinda just don't. Things get much harder in terms of trying to bring things IN to the US through a commercial port, but leaving via a private plane or marina? No problems.

    I agree that cash in those kind of quantities is a bit too bulk to think about carrying around. Sure, a boat could carry it but they couldn't just walk around with it. They could reasonably use something like diamonds; they will need one member of the crew who is already into that world and knows the people to go to and they'll have to set it up in advance, but that's the way I'd think about doing it. Diamonds are good because they are very portable and, in a pinch, can be swallowed. Otherwise they will need someone to launder the cash before they leave the country and that takes a lot more time.

    Things like bearer bonds do exist by the way, and that's one way to transfer huge amounts of money, but they are also finicky to handle because they are typically only accepted by banks. It's much more reasonable that they could liquidate into diamonds then quietly turn them back into cash in their own time.
     
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  3. J-Zatoro

    J-Zatoro New Member

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    Thanks @LostThePlot!

    1. The location is Massachusetts... would it be even feasible to take a private small boat to the caribbean? and without going through any maritime customs/authority checkpoints? Wouldn't someone see them and flag them?
    2. If it's easier for them to boat from Florida to the Caribbean, I guess I could change the location, but the customs/authority question remains
    3. Would the diamons retain their value? I keep hearing about how diamonds are not an investment, and how the value of diamonds is artificially inflated by marketing. Was this the case in '93?
    4. I've also seen some second-hand Tiffany diamond jewelry that sell for less than 30% of their original price. If they were to buy straight up diamonds (no jewerly), would they find people who'd buy it for >85% of the original value in the Caribbean?
    5. If they have diamonds instead of dufflebags of money, would it be easier to fly away? I'm trying to avoid airport scenes
    Thanks again!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  4. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    The money laundering business is a high dollar industry.
    The real thieves have lawyers that have lawyers to buy companies and resale them within their group.
    With the money transferred around, it ends up in a bank in the Cayman islands.
    Of course all I know is what I've learned from the couch.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  5. J-Zatoro

    J-Zatoro New Member

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    @Thundair Thanks!

    I read up a bit on money laundering and it seems to require connections, coordination/experience, and time. The characters are 2 common citizens with no capital. One character works as at the aforementioned auction club as a development assistant. He was able to scam them out of ~10m, nothing too crazy. They expected the clubto only realize they'd been scammed after 3 weeks. would this be enough time to launder the money out of the US?

    In the scenario that their expected time is cut short and they have to flee in 1 less than a week, would it be enough time then?
     
  6. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    For a fantastic example of the actual size of a large amount of cash, check out Way of the Gun. Excellent movie. The way they handled it there is they asked for a boatload (haHA!) of money, $10 million I think it was, but they only ever intended leaving with a couple million dollars. And here is the thing--if your guys are knocking over a spot, they have to get out of the building with the cash. So two guys are probably not going to make it out of the building with anywhere close to $10 million USD. It's too heavy, and too bulky. More to the point, if they have an escape plan that involves them fleeing the country to somewhere with a much weaker economy, they wouldn't need that much. In 1993, $400, 000 USD was worth upwards of $5 MILLION Dominican pesos or Hatian gourde, and over $10 million Jamaican dollars. Of course, things were probably more expensive there (e.g. a burger in a nice restaurant, instead of $5 USD, might have been $8-9 DOP).

    So they get the few hundred grand, get in a van, and drive down to Florida. Hop a boat.

    Hell, they could go to Cuba. Throw in some political intrigue there!
     
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    smurf it arround to get it back into bank accounts (smurfing is using people to pay ammounts in inless than 10k increments to avoid the reporting laws) then electronic transfer out of the country - simple

    you can expect to pay about 10-15% to the smurfs
     
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  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Long story short: I'm an interpreter and translator for the USDOJ, District of Puerto (the Caribbean!) ;)

    Maritime transport and ship-to-ship transfer of illegal goods, drugs, and str8-up cash is a very common thing. The simpler the operation, the more likely it is to succeed. The exchanging of money for gold or diamonds or some permutation thereof requires contact with a lot of other connections to make that happen. Every connection is like a part in a machine. The more parts it has, the more likely it is to break. If the idea is to have the operation succeed, keep it to the fewest steps possible.

    You don't have to find an unscrupulous captain. You get a trusted person already in the organization trained to pilot a boat. Keep it in-house.
     
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  9. J-Zatoro

    J-Zatoro New Member

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    @Wreybies Hello, fellow Spanish translator! (I do some engineering contracts, haha). Thanks for the insight! :D

    This is all very early WIP and I'm open to any suggestions. What do you think of this:

    • The "crew" is just 2 or 3 guys with no prior knowledge in crime, with the exception of low-level forgery.
    • They don't "rob" the club. One guy works there and was able to con them out of a large sum. They're paid in diamonds (is this dumb?) and some straps of cash.
    • They were originally gonna launder and wire the money in increments of 10k over a period of a month, but their plan is cut short and they need to leave sooner.
    • They drive from Boston to another port located a day away (because their port contact is there and not in Boston). They get on the cargo ship. Stuff happens.
    What do you think?

    Thank you so much!
     
  10. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    How certain are you people that the OP isn't trying to get real-life advice here?

    (If he is, I applaud his creativeness... the cute, innocent dog picture is a good touch.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
    Cave Troll likes this.
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    If he is I've got a skippers ticket ... shall we say 10% ;)
     

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