May 12th, 2012

American Banks - robberies & large cash/money withdrawals

Where: USA (Northeast part of the country if that's relevant)
When: Modern day

Terms: how to withdraw a lot of money from a bank, bank secrecy act, famous bank robberies, bank security

I have a few questions relating to banks.

1. I'm writing a character who works at a large bank (it's a large company with many branches) branch as a manager. In the story, I want him to have experienced two separate armed robbery situations.

I was wondering what sort of security measures are in place for a large branch that has a fair amount of cash on site? I'm envisioning one daily security officer and some kind of silent alarm button that all the tellers can press that notifies the police, but is there anything else? Are their trainings for employees on how managers/tellers should deal with robbery situations?

2. My second question is: how much cash is a bank required to actually keep at every branch? I'd imagine it's a certain percentage of something to do with local accounts, but I haven't had any luck googling for any figures.

3. I'm writing a wealthy criminal character is planning to withdraw a lot of money and flee the country. He has millions in the bank/investments and is very savvy as to how the banking system works, so he would have made plans for how to access all these assets if he were forced to leave the country in a hurry. Not having worked in a bank or made millions, I don't have any ideas as to what steps he would take.

-Does anybody have any ideas for how he would be able to transfer/move his money around so he could still access it in Western Europe? I know he wouldn't want to leave his money sitting in a US bank account since the government would move freeze all his American assets quickly. I think I've heard of certain offshore bank accounts that can be set up (on certain island nations or whatnot) that will ignore the demands of the US government to freeze assets due to pending criminal trials, but I don't know much about this or how the character would be able to access the money in those accounts. Western Union? Wire transfers?

-This character is also going to try to withdraw as much money in cash from his account as he can from a large branch. I've read a bit about $10,000 cash transactions that require a bank to notify the government in CTRs, and about SARs, but is there an actual limit to the amount of cash a branch will actually fork over to a person at one time? Is there are a lot of paperwork that needs to be filled out?

I know it's a broad topic with a lot of sub questions. Any help on this topic would be much appreciated!

Brands of cigarettes and What They Say About You

Modern day, all over the world.

Not entirely sure how to google this, because I'm looking for more anecdotal kinds of information.


I have two characters who are both long-term smokers. I don't really need any help on the mechanics of smoking (I don't reall smoke myself, but I have done so enough times to know what it's like), but more about certain kinds of cigarettes and figuring out what "their brand" would be.

I know how certain brands/strengths/etc carry certain connotations amongst smokers, so I'm mainly looking for any and all information about those connotations. (For instance: one of my friends rolls his own because it's cheaper, but hates how that's become more popular and cool lately, because it makes him look like he's just doing it because it's cool. I've another friend who used to smoke Lucky Strike, but hates them now because she says all the Mad Men poseurs smoke them.)

Ideally, I'd like a brand that's decent quality and available pretty much everywhere, or a couple of different brands that are available in different countries but are fairly interchangable. But on the other hand, a particular brand that's hard to find but really awesome would work as well (and even better if there's a "will do in a pinch" alternative to the awesome brand.) Or a non-obvious brand that's considered particularly terrible even, that they'd have to be desperate to smoke.

Both characters have military experience, so if there's a certain brand with those connotations, that would be awesome as well. But they hang out all over the world, so they're not really particularly constrained by geographic availability.

But any information on the connotations of brands/strengths/etc would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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