Bragging Rights Of The Fraudulent Kind

Morning Coffee

Enjoying my morning coffee and   LA Times, NY Style.

I never thought the Treasury Department’s thresholds for reporting the people behind cash purchases of residential real estate would make me face my bi-Coastal allegiances.

Having grown up in New York, and having lived in Los Angeles for more than half of my life, I’m conflicted. I read the New York Times (electronic edition) every day. I also read the Los Angeles Times (print edition), which, jonesing for a NY experience, I fold in the manner I learned in fourth grade so as to more easily read it on the subway. [That this was taught to me in school as part of the curriculum says volumes about the veneration of The Times. But I digress…]

I identify as a New Yorker, especially when it comes to claiming unparalleled authority on topics such as bagels and pizza. Even more so, I wear the mantle of having grown up in Manhattan with unwarranted snobbery over those from Long Island or New Jersey ― unwarranted as I was simply lucky to have parents cool enough to live in the city, and did not attain that rank of my own merits.

I identify as an Angelino (even though it’s a truly crappy moniker) when it comes to things like weather, or that the beach or the mountains are within 30 minutes of my doorstep, and being able to live in a two bedroom place with only having to sell one of my kidneys.

I never thought that learning the different reporting thresholds for the  Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network regulations could be an emotional experience — after all, they’re just numbers.

  • For LA, San Diego and San Francisco the threshold is $2 million.
  • For Miami and Palm Beach it’s $1 million.
  • For San Antonio, Texas it’s $500,000.
  • For the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island it’s $1.5 million.
  • And for Manhattan… it’s $3 million dollars.

Excuse me, three million dollars?

I read the numbers over and over, realizing I was feeling pangs of jealousy. Until that last line I was actually proud that California was leading the pack with a threshold double that of Florida, four times that of Texas, $500K more than four city boroughs… only to be sucker punched by Manhattan sneaking in under the wire at $3 million dollars. 

I mean first LA can’t seem to make a decent bagel, and now this?

Even worse, this is affecting my wallet. Does the Treasury Department not understand what they will be doing to LA home prices? With a reporting threshold of $2 million, LA will only get the low-end money launderers and tax evaders, while all the really wealthy criminals will be buying up places in New York.

Yes, average sales price per square foot is higher in New York City than in Los Angeles, which is exactly why we need the threshold raised as a form of federal stimulus to encourage the unsavory to also consider LA when trying to launder up to $2,999,999 in cash.

Cliven Bundy and his rancher cronies made headlines over what they felt was federal over-reach when the BLM tried to charge them for grazing cattle on federal land. Well, I think it’s time for us Angelinos (what a truly lame nickname) to band together and take a stand against Federal Under-Reach! Do you hear me, Federal Government? Either raise our money laundering bar to $3 million, or lower New York’s to $2 million ― whatever you do, we in Los Angeles will not rest until we have parity!

If the feds don’t listen, I think we Angelinos (really, we can’t come up with a better name?) need to take matters into our own hands. Which is why I’m currently in touch with David Copperfield’s people to see if he could help us steal the Statue of Liberty. We can place it at LAX and change the poem on the pedestal to read simply “Give us your money launderers.” 

And David, while you’re at it, can you steal the secret to a decent bagel?

A version of this article appeared in The Huffington Post.
Spencer Krull is a Real Estate Broker and writer in Beverly Hills, CA. He can be reached at and


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