FinCEN focusing on armored car companies in California, Texas border crossings in extended, new GTOs

The US Treasury is continuing its aggressive use of a powerful regional tool employed to capture more details on customers and transactions or do so at significantly lower thresholds than current federal requirements, this time focused on armored car operations in California and Texas.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) last week extended a prior geographic targeting order (GTO) for common carriers of currency – which encompass armored car operations – at two border crossings in Southern California and issued a new GTO for carriers at eight key border crossings in Texas. To read a copy of the orders, please click here.

The additional information “significantly assists law enforcement’s ability to identify and prosecute illegal transportation of currency and disrupt the illicit movement of bulk cash across the southwest border,” FinCEN stated in a release tied to the orders.

The maneuvers were originally done as a result of investigators noticing that organized crime groups in Mexico were using armored car services to move illicit funds into US financial institutions due to the tightening of dollar deposits in Mexico in 2010, a restriction that has recently been relaxed.

The GTOs temporarily modify the Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (CMIR) requirements for common carriers of currency when physically moving more than $10,000 in cash across the designated border, FinCEN stated.

The GTOs will require full and complete CMIR reporting and recordkeeping by common carriers of currency at these border crossings because they remove the reporting exemption for these carriers that might otherwise apply to transporting currency from a foreign person to a bank. Failing to file these reports could result in the seizure of cash being transported.

Common carriers of currency subject to the renewed Southern California GTO – the agency issued that GTO in August 2014 – must continue complying with the enhanced reporting requirements until February 4, 2016.

Common carriers of currency subject to the new GTO at ports of entry in Texas must comply with the enhanced reporting requirements from September 17, 2015 through March 15, 2016.

Last month, FinCEN issued a GTO requiring check cashers in two South Florida counties to get more information at lower thresholds from anyone cashing in tax refund checks.

The move was a direct response to the rise in criminal identity thieves stealing account information or personal details from individuals in the region and filing false tax returns, later gaining a check from the Internal Revenue Service under fictitious pretenses and cashing the check using fake identification documents.

That FinCEN GTO was the second one in South Florida in three months – the first was tied to trade and also follows orders linked to Los Angeles’ fashion district – and is further evidence the agency is trying to make a statement against multi-dimensional crimes in critical financial hubs.