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Suspicious Activity Reports to the IRS when buying or depositing money orders.

Suspicious Activity Reports to the IRS when buying or depositing money orders.

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Old Feb 17, 13, 9:22 pm
  #16  
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It is sad that a Farmer Market Stand or some small businesses are caught up in this and lost tens of thousands of their proceeds from 100% legitimate business because of such.

Last edited by Happy; Feb 18, 13 at 4:16 pm
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Old Feb 18, 13, 8:55 am
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Were you doing multiple MOs in one transaction, or a single MO for several thousand dollars?

Last edited by WhateverDude; Feb 18, 13 at 10:45 am
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Old Feb 18, 13, 10:06 am
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If you're looking for some fun reading:

http://www.ffiec.gov/bsa_aml_infobas...al/OLM_023.htm

Last edited by Stubtify; Feb 18, 13 at 4:41 pm
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Old Feb 19, 13, 12:53 pm
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Structuring

The following is not legal advice, I do not represent you.

As a formal federal prosecutor, I can tell you that you should be really careful in this area. As noted above, Suspicious Activity Reports get generated when you make cash or cash-equivelent transactions ranging from $3000-$10,000. These reports go to various law-enforcement types who investigate them to varying degrees.

Generally they are looking for money laundering and structuring. Money laundering (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1956) basically involves monetary transactions in which the money was obtained illegally and you know it was obtained illegally and you are making the transaction in an attempt to further the illegal activity or conceal the source, nature, etc. of the funds.

Structuring (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/5324) involves making monetary transactions in an attempt to circumvent reporting requirements. The basic reporting requirement kicks in when moving more than $10,000 in cash in a day. Note that a report will be generated even if you do smaller transactions at multiple branches of a bank in one day that aggregate to over $10,000. The money in this case does not need to be from illegal conduct. The only requirement is that you are structuring transactions in order to avoid the reporting of the transactions.

If you are ever approached by law enforcement asking about transfers you made my Practical, Non-Legal, advice is to tell them unequivocally that you want to speak with a lawyer before answering any questions. The easiest way to prove your intent in structuring transactions was to avoid reporting requirements is for you to tell them that. Otherwise it is very difficult, although not impossible, to prove.

It is also generally a bad idea to go telling people on the Internet that you are structuring your transactions so that they are not reported. You would be surprised at how easily law enforcement can tie you to an account on a website.

If you ever take $10,000+ in cash on a flight, my further Practical, Non-Legal advice is to make sure you report it on the Customs form that asks you that question. It is not generally illegal to carry large amounts of money. However, if you lie on the form and they find out they WILL seize all of your money, and they may arrest you, and they could charge you with a federal crime.

Ike
The preceding is not legal advice, I do not represent you.
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Old Feb 19, 13, 1:14 pm
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Originally Posted by scoy View Post
I work for a bank, and SARs are also reported when a customer tries to structure transactions that will avoid a SAR. For example, if someone wants to buy $3000 worth of MO and the cashier mentions a SAR will need to be filled out, then the customer says, "oh, just $2000 then".

This is standard practice for all banks. However, im not sure if this extends to walmart or other non-financial institutions.
I'm a manager at a store that sells money orders. The IRS's requirements apply to all businesses and banks selling monetary instruments such as money orders or money wiring. The IRS rules are as follows for money orders:

Fill out a SAR (Suspicious Activity Report for the IRS) for money order purchases over $2000 that ARE SUSPICIOUS.

Fill out a SAR for ALL money order purchases over $3000 (irrelevant at my store as we have a company policy of a $2,000 limit for money orders)

Fill out a CTF (Currency Transaction Form for the Department of the Treasury) for ALL CASH transactions over $10,000

We are also trained to look out for people structuring purchases to get around the requirement, such as purchasing money orders in amounts close to but not exceeding the threshold, breaking the purchases into multiple transactions throughout the day or week, or having multiple people purchase smaller money orders.

All forms must be faxed to the appropriate places weekly. SARs go to the IRS.

The IRS is more concerned about cash transactions (because of money laundering), moreso than credit card transactions although most places will not accept credit cards as payment for money orders as money orders are a guaranteed instrument of payment, and credit cards are not. Some places such as the post office will accept debit cards, but the store I work for only accepts cash for money orders.

Originally Posted by steventravel View Post
What happens if you tell them that you do not want to give your social security number to them? What can they do?
Refuse the sale, keep a photo of your face taken off of the security cameras, and use it to identify you to refuse all future sales (to you) of monetary instruments.
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Old Feb 20, 13, 11:54 am
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Spend 5 minutes in line...

at the place where I do my business, and I'll point out 5 or more people and situations that are far, far more sketchy than anything we FTers are up to...

IkeEsq- that'll be the best post on this subject for this year, next, and years to come. Excellent thoughts, thanks!
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Old Feb 20, 13, 12:09 pm
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Originally Posted by msp2anywhere View Post
at the place where I do my business, and I'll point out 5 or more people and situations that are far, far more sketchy than anything we FTers are up to...

IkeEsq- that'll be the best post on this subject for this year, next, and years to come. Excellent thoughts, thanks!
Is it a check cashing place or a bank?
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Old Feb 20, 13, 11:24 pm
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I used to be a teller for one of the large Canadian banks and we had similar things about anti-money laundering and etc

I don't remember all the details anymore, having left the job maybe 6 years ago, but what I remember is similar to the US rules

- $10k cash in one transaction gets me an automated Large Cash Transaction Report to fill out (one customer won $10k from a casino and wanted to deposit the winnings ... kinda awkward to ask for their ID and stuff)

- as a best practice, when servicing a customer, I typically do a cursory look at their recent transactions. If they come in to, say, deposit $2k and I see that they've already deposited $8k cash in the past few days, that's also a sign I should do a LCTR

- we were also trained a bit on how to notice suspicious transactions and fill out a suspicious activity report. There were a few points of emphasis with the training modules:

- there is no min/max for filing a SAR
- we cannot let the customer know that we're filing a SAR (but we can for LCTRs) -- this probably explains why the OP got stonewalled a bit at walmart
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Old Feb 21, 13, 2:37 am
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Apologies if this is a newbie question, but what's the possible impact of having a SAR filed on you? If our transactions are perfectly legal, is there anything we need to be worried about?
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Old Feb 21, 13, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by MidnightLight View Post
Apologies if this is a newbie question, but what's the possible impact of having a SAR filed on you? If our transactions are perfectly legal, is there anything we need to be worried about?
No
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Old Feb 21, 13, 9:20 am
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I think I understand the limits and risks when purchasing MOs. But what about depositing them? Can I collect up say 5 or 6 MOs and deposit them in my bank without worry? How else are you guys liquidating MOs? PM is fine.
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Old Feb 21, 13, 10:59 am
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Originally Posted by maradori View Post
- there is no min/max for filing a SAR
- we cannot let the customer know that we're filing a SAR (but we can for LCTRs) -- this probably explains why the OP got stonewalled a bit at walmart
This holds true here in the US as well-- you really are not supposed to know when a SAR is filed against you.

Also: any excuses you give to explain why you're not doing anything illegal could just as easily be the excuses a real money launderer could use; ie: "I'm doing this for miles." So the financial institutions aren't just able to take your word for it. A fact of this game is that some of what we do shadows the path money launderers take. Sure they're maybe buying MO's with cash and not debit, but once the MO is purchased there's no way the bank knows how it was acquired.
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Old Feb 21, 13, 1:23 pm
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Originally Posted by MidnightLight View Post
Apologies if this is a newbie question, but what's the possible impact of having a SAR filed on you? If our transactions are perfectly legal, is there anything we need to be worried about?
Well, the government now has a document saying you did something suspicious. If you do lots of suspicious things or the things you do are very suspicious, perhaps a law enforcement type will investigate, perhaps they will subpoena credit reports, bank and credit card records. If things still look very suspicious perhaps they'll look through your trash or do a mail cover, try to trace money and see if income, assets, and purchases match. Maybe someone will knock on your door or if they have probable cause they'll search email accounts or come take all of your computers away for 8-20 months. If you ever come under investigation for fraud of some kind they'll look up the old SARS as additional evidence of something.

So, for most people, it makes little to no difference but for some it could lead to something to be concerned about. As I mentioned earlier, if asked by law enforcement, make clear that you want to speak to a lawyer before discussing anything about your financial transactions.

Originally Posted by lkar View Post
I think I understand the limits and risks when purchasing MOs. But what about depositing them? Can I collect up say 5 or 6 MOs and deposit them in my bank without worry? How else are you guys liquidating MOs? PM is fine.
There is nothing illegal about having, buying, or depositing Money Orders. As long as you do not deposit them in a way and for the purpose of preventing the financial institution from filing a report, then there is nothing to worry about.
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Old Feb 21, 13, 2:03 pm
  #29  
 
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The initials "SAR" never mean anything good. :-\
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Old Feb 22, 13, 6:59 am
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I noticed that over the years, one particular bank I go to never fills out any reports or anything no matter how big my cash or check deposits are. I've done $50k, $30k, $20k, $10k cash deposits a couple times and also checks ranging in the same sizes. Are some banks excluded? This is a FCU. Also this bank allows you to have an account without a SS# and only a foreign passport, but my account has all my info...
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