I'm a US taxpayer (non-resident alien) and I'm being pushed by a friend to do the following:

  1. He will transfer 40k from a US bank account that he owns to my personal account.
  2. I will withdraw this amount and hand it back to him in cash.
  3. He will take this money outside the US.

Now, I know this is a terrible idea, and sounds totally illegal. I will NOT proceed with his plan, but I want to reject his proposal backing up my arguments with IRS information. Is there official documentation that says why this cannot be done?

  • 17
    This is not primarily a tax issue; this is a money-laundering prevention issue. As a starting place I would show him the 10k cash declaration requirement on leaving the US. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 15:34
  • 22
    Also - how well do you know this person? Might be straight-forward fraud where he'll steal your money and then reverse the initial transfer (depending on form the transfer takes). Ask yourself: why does your 'friend' need you to be involved? Why couldn't he just take the money out himself? The fact that the plan is more complicated than the easiest form, shows you something fishy is going on. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 15:36
  • 45
    Something to remember in these kinds of situations: "No.", is a complete sentence.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 15:46
  • 21
    I"m betting that OP's "Friend" is trying to scam him out of $40K
    – JohnFx
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 18:35
  • 10
    I think this question is based on a faulty assumption. Specifically, you are looking for arguments with which you can reject his request, but the reality is that he should have to provide the arguments for why you should. The only response to this request should be, "Why do you want to do this?", which puts the onus on him to provide a credible reason (hint: he can't)
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 23:10

3 Answers 3


I would respond to your friend this way: "Either you are planning to do something illegal, in which case I don't want to be involved, or you are planning to do something legal, in which case you don't need me."

Here's Why: What your friend proposes is completely pointless because if the money is legally his to give to you, then it's perfectly legal for your friend to withdraw the $40K from his own bank account and take it out of the country without your involvement at all. As long as he files the appropriate paperwork, he can take as much money out of the country as he pleases. He should be prepared to answer why he's travelling with that much money, but he would have to do that anyway even if you went through with his plan. Note that if you declare the money you are fine, but if you don't declare it and get caught, you will get in trouble, so always declare it!

You are correct to say no to this. The fact that he wants to involve you (or anyone) makes it seem extremely shady.

  • 2
    Note for reference that your friend may need to declare the cash to his destination country, and possibly any countries he passes through on the way there. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 20:38
  • 14
    The first paragraph is the perfect answer to so many questions on this site! Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 8:26
  • 2
    The account the money is to be sent from might not even belong to the "friend". The credentials might have been gotten by a phishing attack, and the OP will be the mule who withdraws the stolen money in cash. The cash disappears without a trace, and the OP will be arrested when the real owner of the account notices the missing money, and the police tracks down the account it was sent to.
    – vsz
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 20:51

There is no "reason why this cannot be done", but you can tell your friend that these actions are officially shady in the eyes of the US government. Any bank transactions with a value of $10,000 or more are automatically reported to the government as a way to prevent money laundering, tax evasion, and other criminal shenanigans. "Structuring" bank deposits to avoid this monetary limit is a crime in and of itself.


  • 1
    Also, as the OP is a non-resident, it will increase the chances of being seen as suspicious when receiving and immediately extracting such a large sum. We can assume the "friend" will not give any receipt for the money, so in a "my word against your word" case the OP will likely have disadvantages.
    – vsz
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 7:49
  • 1
    vsz, things that are "seen as suspicious" but aren't, are best dealt with in the clear under full transparency. The friend can easily withdraw the money himself while in the US, and fill out the paperwork with no trouble. It isn't corrupt places where bribes are needed. The fact that he's looking for workarounds to not look suspicious, is far more suspicious. However what is being proposed is a well known wire fraud scam. Once the cash is received, everything else will fall though. Leaving this guy on the hook as the patsy who agreed to it (no recourse).
    – mist42nz
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 6:38
  • The government can even charge with intent to structure even without meeting the daily limit. Many people have been screwed by this.
    – shawnt00
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 21:41

Here's what's going to happen:

At the last minute, he's going to "discover" that for some reason first you must send him $10,000. He'll tell you not to worry, as he's still going to send you $40,000... now $50,000. In fact, he's going to tell you that he'll send you $60,000 and tell you to keep the $10,000 as a "finders fee".

Then you will send him, $10,000 and he will walk away with your $10,000. You'll never hear from him again.

This is a very common scam.

The best way to avoid it is not to tell him you won't do it for IRS reasons. The best thing to do is to stop accepting email from him and (optionally) report him to law enforcement.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .