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SEARCH Initiative


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Targets the way organized retail crime rings earn, move and store funds

Through the SEARCH Initiative, HSI actively looks for and investigates leads related to organized retail crime rings that have an international scope. SEARCH Initiative investigations often target the way organized retail crime rings earn, move and store funds.

Examples include:

  • Money smuggled or wire transferred out of the United States in support of illegal activity.
  • Stolen property being unlawfully exported out of the country.
  • Illegal aliens involved in organized, illicit activity in the United States.

Indicators of suspicious activity include:

  • Business checks written to individuals versus legitimate suppliers and cashed at the banks where the checks originated from versus being deposited into another businesses bank account.
  • Business checks written to cash on a regular basis in amounts that far exceed a business’ petty cash requirement.
  • Multiple checks on the same day consistently written in amounts less than $10,000, possibly to avoid reporting requirements, despite the fact that checks would not normally generate Currency Transaction Reports.
  • Multiple checks written on the same day to cash to ensure the amount of each check written does not exceed $10,000.
  • Multiple money orders in increments of $500 or less deposited into bank accounts where the remitter of the money order is the same as the authorized signers on the bank accounts for which the checks are being deposited into.
  • Subjects of questionable financial transactions all maintain the same address.
  • Occupations listed for the subjects of questionable financial activities are not commensurate to the volume and type of the financial activities.
  • Checks drawn from the questionable financial activities are negotiated in foreign countries.
  • Cash deposits related to the questionable financial activities involved currency in $100 denominations.
  • Fraudulent use of debit/gift cards, which are also referred to as stored value cards
  • Cashier’s checks obtained from U.S. banks and tendered at foreign banks
  • Large bank wire transfers in exchange for product shipped via interstate commerce
Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/03/2018