Sunday, June 17, 2007

Broken dreams

I had a small dream that one day we can do away with cash payments on escorts. Maybe not all of them, but at least the ones that I know well and trusted. It looked promising. First there was Paypal, which evolved into a major online payment system. Now you can even make an instant secure payment over the phone. There had been many other payment systems, some of which were designed for anonymous payments, like e-gold. I was expecting that obstacles will gradually break down until someday in the near future we don't need to go the bank or the drive through ATMs before going straight to the date. Unfortunately, I just found out from Livy that the e-gold system is basically on trial only recently. Many e-gold are trapped in the system while some agents are charging up to 30% to turn the e-gold into real currencies.

My motivations are simple. I have plastic bags of coins hidden all over my house. I hate to use real money because I will always end up with small changes all over my house. Coin machines in the supermarkets appeared, which would count the coins and give you bills, at a cost of 10%. Now there is a zero cost option, but everything goes to charity. I think that's a good deal but I am just lazy. I still have an envelope of Argentina peso waiting for me to take it to the only Thomas Cook around here, for the UNICEF spare coins project. I hope when I finally get to it, everybody are still in business.

I rarely use real money, so the major inconvenience of the capitalist society for me is to pay escorts.

Cost isn't a major motivation but actually it does cost me quite a lot. It's highly unlikely that your own bank has an ATM where you want it for free withdrawals. The gas station ATMs all seemed to be on the right side of the road while the other banks ATMs are always on the wrong side. So I'm at least paying 1.5% to get my own money. Worse, most of the time I had to withdraw twice or more to get over the small limit on these rip-off ATMs. Stashing a shoe box of cash at home isn't for me, sooner or later the cash will run out just when I need it, and I have to rush to the ATM again.

I also use cash advance on credit cards a lot, adding to the cost. Most of the times it just look better when cash is coming out from different accounts, so it doesn't hurt as much as a single figure on the statements. For security it's reasonable to keep the daily withdrawal limits on my current account card. So I have to draw from other cards to cover the unexpected, heat of the moment expenditures.

Abroad, cash advance from credit is about the only solution. I can summon large amount of cash online from one of my online accounts, exchange it on xetrade at low cost, and send it to where I am. But it takes time and need a local bank account to receive the money. In Buenos Aires, I stayed at a hotel with a main branch of Citi Bank across the road. I felt so at home with my Citicard's that I forgot I was not in US. The banks closed suddenly for a few days for unknown reasons, leaving me high and dry with very little spare cash.

Escorts, unless they have to, do not like to accept anything other than cash. That's understandable. Even for cash, there's the fake money, $1 bills in place of $20's, or just insufficient funds in the envelope. Also, from the beginning of time, many guys tried to invent scams to play without paying. For example, some wanted to pay with gift cards instead of cash, and there are escorts desperate enough to take the chances. I was hoping with the popularity of Paypal and the like, the resistance to not taking cash will diminish.

The need for an escort to have a bank account to accept money is also a big problem. You get another hurdle to avoid tax. In US the whole income is illegal anyway. Some escorts said that LE can "touch" the money somehow if they get busted. That's why some have an offshore account.

My favorite form of payment will be a reloadable prepaid credit card, which some parents give it to their teenagers. One-off disposable cards are of no interest to me because it's simpler to get cash than buying plastic cards all the time. I love those cards rechargeable online. Giving it to someone means something, because you really want to save a lot of trips to the ATM for many times to come. The problem is, you need some sort of online account. The recipient knows the account and your name. Or, the card is in the name of the recipient. She must use her real name so the card can be used when ID's are needed. Total anonymous payment isn't possible. I can't rule out some reusable cards, but without requiring proper ID, recharge is not as convenient, or the cost is high.

I have several Paypal accounts since it was rather new, to experiment on money laundering. BTW, that's my other motivation of not using cash. Cash coming out from my check account is too obvious. I have been watching the gradually tightening of rules at Paypal over many years. Now after Livy's post, I have to officially giving up hope on Paypal. To be anonymous, both party must have a business Paypal account using an alias. The recipient must have a business account from a bank to link with the Paypal account. Names in both accounts must "match", otherwise you will have trouble drawing money out, or the cost will be high. For the same reason you want PP to verify your social security number and everything else. Your chances of doing any tricks are slim. Having a business account with a US bank isn't too bad. It only cost about $5 a year month for the basics.

Putting e-gold on trial means that we won't have untraceable anonymous payments for a long time to come. But we don't really need untraceable payments, anonymous is very sufficient.

Actually, I think I'm paying my gardener anonymously for years. I think I'm the only one who could convince my gardener to give me his bank account number. I just schedule online the money from my account straight into his account. All we have are the account numbers. I doubt if it's easy for non LE to call up either bank to find the name of the accounts. But sadly, having a bank account to accept payments gives LE paper trails to find illegal activities. And if the escort got murdered for example, LE will certainly want to talk to me if my account number appears often on her statements.


The English Courtesan said...

What a fascinating post LA Player and thank you for the mention! At least in the UK, the income is legal, but the same tax constraints apply - if you don't declare your income you run a major risk, especially if you have bank accounts and take card payments.

Cash is generally preferred by escorts, but that in itself needs dealing with - you either have to pay it into a bank, at which point it's traceable, or else you need to pay for wverything in cash, which in the real world of direct debits and mortgages isn't really do-able.

Oh, for a world where everyone were trustworthy enough to be given one's real name and bank that a bit naive of me? :-)

Livvy xxx

P.S. I rather like your spelling Livy in view of its erudite Roman heritage...hmmm...time for a name change perhaps?

LA Player said...

I knew there's something wrong when I typed your name. It looked a little short. You know well, spelling to me is an art of approximation - saving me time to check things out. Having a place in the urban dictionary, I would think Livvy beats the Roman any time.