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Fast cash
February 12, 2014 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Yes, I'm writing fiction. So let's say I want to withdraw $100,000 from a U.S. bank account, in cash. How long does it take for the bank to pull the money together for me? An hour? A day?

Bonus question: Since most law-abiding private citizens don't keep that much cash on hand, what precautions do they take in case they think I'm using it for nefarious purposes? Do they alert law enforcement? Record the serial numbers? Mark the bills? (How do they mark the bills?)
posted by elizeh to Work & Money (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
At least as long as it would take the bank to fill out IRS Form 8300.
posted by Rob Rockets at 3:48 PM on February 12


Oops. Sorry, you would need to fill out the form, not the bank.
posted by Rob Rockets at 3:49 PM on February 12


If you withdraw over $10K the bank has to report it to the IRS. The wait depends on your bank.

My first bank wanted you to notify them 2 days ahead of time if you had to withdraw more than $100K. They were used to dealing with old farmers who paid cash for everything, including expensive livestock, farm implements and teams of field laborers.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 3:51 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Days, possibly weeks, depending on bank policy. (Example.) And yes, there are a bunch of federal reporting requirements including CTRs.
posted by holgate at 3:53 PM on February 12


It might be best if you called your bank and said: "How long will it take for me to withdraw $100k and what do I need to do it make sure that happens successfully?"
posted by royalsong at 4:01 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Smaller, retail bank branches have to order their cash from the larger district or regional branches a few days in advance. If you went to your neighborhood branch it would likely take 2 or 3 days. Neighborhood branches have a threshold that they are allowed to keep on-site, anything above that they have to send to the main branch. If there is a major holiday coming up that people take cash out for, they will order extra to have on-hand (I mean, extra 20's for the atm's).

Now, you would think that the larger main branch could then probably fulfill your request same day, right? But probably not, because they need to have enough cash on-hand to distribute to their smaller branches as needed. So if you want a really large amount, even the main branch would need to order it from the Fed. So you're probably still talking a 2-3 day delay.

(We're assuming U.S. here, right?)
posted by vignettist at 4:04 PM on February 12


If you knew were going to need cash for nefarious purposes, the best way to do it from American banks would be to have a number of accounts in different institutions from which you could draw smaller amounts, thus keeping you under the IRS radar, to make up that $100,000. You would want to stagger withdrawals, vary the amounts and/or gift some money as tax-deductible gifts to family, etc. to help make it less glaringly obvious what you were doing.

The more obvious, smarter way would be to hide money from your other criminal pursuits (I am assuming your criminal is experienced) in offshore accounts in countries where the banks are not subject to the same laws as American-based banks.

Finally, you might have a legitimate business, like a restaurant or nightclub, that allows you to launder the money you've made through your questionable activities, some of which you then dutifully report to the IRS as taxable income, and some you keep handy at home in a safe so you don't even have to go the bank route.

But if your character didn't plan ahead (or is stuck having to pay a ransom or something) it will take several days to get that kind of money together from one bank, plus the aforementioned form for the IRS, leading a nice paper trail for the authorities to follow.
posted by misha at 4:31 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


In NYC it takes approximately one and a half days.
posted by newpotato at 4:36 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


A cash withdrawal of $100,000 will most likely trigger the bank to file a Suspicious Activity Report with the Treasury department.
posted by malocchio at 4:43 PM on February 12


If you knew were going to need cash for nefarious purposes, the best way to do it from American banks would be to have a number of accounts in different institutions from which you could draw smaller amounts, thus keeping you under the IRS radar, to make up that $100,000. You would want to stagger withdrawals, vary the amounts and/or gift some money as tax-deductible gifts to family, etc. to help make it less glaringly obvious what you were doing.

This is called "structuring", and it's illegal.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:44 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


You might try checking with some poker forums as high stakes players regularly need access to this kind of cash.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:44 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I've done 40K in 2 hours at a downtown branch of a large national bank in a major city (this was 10+ years ago). I tried to get more but that was all the cash they were prepared to part with and maintain normal operations. I've always assumed that the wait was about verifying and double verifying the validity of the cashiers check I was cashing. I don't believe they marked the bills and they weren't particularly concerned for my safety - the teller counted it all out right there in line, with everyone around me.

Also, I was in my mid 20's and felt very, very conspicuous carrying that amount of cash on me. It was quite uncomfortable- I felt like I was going to get robbed any moment. Thinking back, I wasn't worried about losing/having the money stolen, but about being In Danger. It's strange because carrying my debit card doesn't feel that dangerous even though the chances of getting robbed are probably the same now as they were that particular afternoon. Cash Money does strange things to the brain.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:45 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Keep in mind that this will also depend on how much money you have with the bank overall. A client with $100K total withdrawing the whole thing will trigger more suspicion and the bank will take their time because they're not a high-value client; a client with $100M in their accounts could probably access the $100K much faster and with minimal hoops to jump through (they probably have a dedicated financial advisor whose main job is to make sure the client has the amount of money they want when they want it).
posted by melissasaurus at 5:08 PM on February 12


vignettist's answer is right in line with my experiences ordering obscene amounts of coins: One or two weekly cash deliveries and pick-ups for smaller branches that mostly deal with non-cash transactions, two or three weekly deliveries and pickups for larger branches that have more local business customers or for main regional branches.

In my area (near a Fed bank) most banks have a central cash vault that isn't connected with a "retail" branch. Armored car companies are contracted to make the runs between branches and the central vault. The armored car companies (Brinks, Loomis, and Garda are big ones) sometimes operate their own cash vault and processing center for banks that don't have one of their own in that region.

Brand-new bills come in shrink-wrapped "bricks" of 10 "straps" of 100 notes each. The serials will be sequential, and the color-coded paper straps will have BEP markings and a notice about the serials.

Used notes straight from the Fed also come in shrink-wrapped bricks of 10 100-note straps. The straps are still color-coded, but will have Federal Reserve Bank markings with a processing date code printed on it. Used notes from a central vault will vary, but probably be in generic color-coded straps, sometimes stamped by the facility with the date.
posted by clorox at 5:26 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


You might try checking with some poker forums as high stakes players regularly need access to this kind of cash.

Players rarely need ready access to that kind of cash. When a high stakes player goes to vegas to play for a few weeks, he might wire 100k to the casino directly but that's about it. When he wants to play he just gets chips from them, never has to carry around huge sums of cash.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:22 PM on February 12


What I'm curious about is what ATM stockers do. I knew someone who owned a few ATMS and periodically he'd have to get 50k from the bank and drive it around filling up ATMs. I have no idea what he had to do to get the cash out, but since it was his business / a common thing I'm sure he had it worked out somehow.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:24 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


If your fictional character knew about the scrutiny or illegality of her/his actions, they might stash the money in bills in a safety deposit box, preferably secretly hidden within another object. That way there wouldn't be a record of cash going in or out.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:40 PM on February 12


One of my coworkers worked as an armoured car driver for a couple of years. He said that occasionally private individuals would hire them to transport large quantities of cash (for whatever purpose.) At one point, someone hired them to take a valuable antique watch to the jeweler. Your law-abiding character might be well advised to hire an armoured car to pick up the cash.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:48 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


For the sake of story details (similar to porcinewithme), in 1986, in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, when I was about 19, I withdrew $10k in cash from one bank to walk across the (outdoor paved) mall and deposit in another, because it was faster than transferring, or depositing a bank cheque or whatever. I had my 22 year old boyfriend with me. It fit in a briefcase, I can't remember the denominations. I was very antsy about the possibility of being robbed (though it was unlikely). The bank weren't happy as it was an unexpected withdrawal and they asked for a form to be filled out - probably something like the suspicious activity stuff mentioned above. I wasn't happy figuring what I did with the money was none of their business.
posted by b33j at 6:49 PM on February 12


Anyone who orders large amounts of cash is usually met by / chatted to by the Branch Manager. A regular customer like RustyBrooks' friend the ATM stocker will be very familiar to and with the branch personnel. And all of the forms.

Most likely a person with that sort of business will order cash for their next pick-up a few days hence on the day they were picking up their current order - ala "thanks for the $50K today, I'll need another $50K on Tuesday".
posted by vignettist at 7:55 PM on February 12


If your character is planning something like this he might just make it a habit to make large withdrawals. 2 cover characters, one who has a good reason to withdraw a big chunk regularly and another that has a reason to deposit. Withdraw from bank A, deposit in bank B, and when he's ready he makes a somewhat larger than usual withdrawl, and skips town.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:27 AM on February 13


Hrm. My dad bought a classic Jeep from a gear head who wanted only cash. He ended up having to go to two different banks to get it all. (Also he said he felt like a drug dealer)
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:42 AM on February 13


It probably depends on the bank.

I had occasion to withdraw about $15k a few years ago, and the bank told me they didn't have the cash on hand. (I'm not sure I believed them, but that's what they said.) I had to wait until the next day.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:28 AM on February 14


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