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The movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them showed that any wizard with a little skill could rob a muggle bank. Newt Scamander used kid-level spells to infiltrate a muggle bank vault successfully. He used Stupefy and Alohomora to stun a security guy and unlock a highly secure vault, respectively.

There are several things a wizard can do to rob a muggle bank easily:

  • Apparate directly inside a vault.

  • Use Imperius Curse to control bank officials.

  • Obliviate memories just in case.

  • Use spells so that muggles won't notice you at all.

  • Go inside the bank invisibly.

  • Use a bigger-on-the-inside bag to store gold and muggle money.

Muggle money can be exchanged at Gringotts, or it can be used to live a wealthy lifestyle in the muggle world.

Also, I don't think it violates the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy or any other wizard laws. If it really violates wizard laws, tell me what they are.

Why are there so many poor wizards and witches (like the Weasleys and Gaunts) in the wizarding world?

Let's say it violates some wizard laws. Why are people like Mundungus Fletcher not doing this secretly?

  • How many galleons would you expect to find in a Muggle bank? – MartianInvader Sep 28 '17 at 22:12
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    If a lot of wizards did that, muggle money would lose its value in the wizarding world. It would be kind of like what the Spanish conquests did to gold and silver. – user14111 Sep 29 '17 at 3:34
  • These comments got a bit off-topic, discussing piracy and the music industry rather than the question at hand, so I've moved them to chat; please continue the conversation there instead. – Rand al'Thor Sep 29 '17 at 8:25
  • As outlined in HPMOR you can also arbitrage the fixed exchange rate of gold to silver in the Wizard world against the floating exchange rate in the Muggle world. – JonathanReez Sep 29 '17 at 16:09
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    I don't think you know bankers as well as I do. They are wizards. Heartless. Wizards. In fact, here's one of them hidden in plain sight. – user87534 Oct 5 '17 at 4:35
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Because the Ministry keeps tabs on people Apparating

This question was asked to JK Rowling in a 2000 interview.

How does the wizarding world protect Muggle banks and vaults, etc. from wizards apparating into them and stealing the contents?

J.K. Rowling: Well, the Ministry of Magic keeps tabs on people apparating. That's why you have to have a license to do it, and the moment you abuse it you can find yourself in serious trouble (or Azkaban!).

Scholastic.com interview - October 16th 2000

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    This answer doesn't address anything other than the first example of using wizard skills. How about all the other methods? – William Mariager Sep 28 '17 at 14:03
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    @WilliamMariager - Rowling was answering the question by giving an example. We can assume that similar examples exist for other methods. – ibid Sep 28 '17 at 14:18
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    @Frank Money matters in the wizard world. You can't just wave a wand to do just anything. Plus, muggle money can be exchanged at Gringotts. Give me a fortune in Zimbabwe currency and I would exchange it to my local currency to purchase local goods. – Captain Cold Sep 28 '17 at 15:38
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    @ibid I'd like to think people are after answers other than "because the author said so" :) – ESR Sep 29 '17 at 2:49
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    @EdmundReed - The author is the only valid source to quote from. Anything else would be speculation and very discouraged by SFF. – ibid Sep 29 '17 at 3:05
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Let's assume for a moment that there are no wizarding laws against robbery, which seems unlikely. If a wizard robbed a Muggle bank and stole, say, a million pounds, this is the logical chain of events that would occur:

  • The robbery would be all over the Muggle news the next day, especially given its inexplicable nature. We Muggles love the unexplained. (See: Lord Lucan, Jimmy Hoffa, Shergar) This in itself might constitute a violation of the International Statute of Secrecy.
  • Either the robber starts to spend his ill-gotten gains in the Muggle world, or he exchanges them for wizard money, possibly in small chunks to avoid suspicion. According to this JKR interview, the Gringotts goblins would then fence the Muggle money back into circulation.
  • Banks typically watermark their notes with invisible dye for the express purpose of tracking them down in the event of a robbery. Given the wizarding world's poor knowledge of Muggle technology, it's unlikely that either the thief or the goblins would know this.
  • When the money re-enters circulation, whether through the wizard's spending or through the goblins, it would very quickly be noticed that this is the stolen money from that recent high-profile bank robbery. The Muggle police would get involved, and then the International Statute of Secrecy would really be in danger.

Let's say, it violates some wizards laws, why are people like Mundungus Fletcher not doing this secretly?

We don't know that they aren't.

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    Wouldn't wizard robber target gold instead of muggle bank notes? should be much easier to use in wizarding world – Lope Sep 28 '17 at 10:18
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    You've made an assumption that Goblins don't know about Muggle financial systems. Wizards might not, but if it was me I'd be fascinated by the extremely complex Muggle systems. – PointlessSpike Sep 28 '17 at 13:17
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    @PointlessSpike, I agree. As it's part of their job, the Goblins would need to know how Muggle currencies work, especially since counterfeit money is a thing. – Arturo Torres Sánchez Sep 28 '17 at 14:10
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    Yeah. Ignorance of Wizards - ok. But I would expect the Goblins to know a lot, possibly including having significant investments in the muggle financial system ;) – TomTom Sep 28 '17 at 15:53
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    When Voldemort killed his parents, it was all over the news because the room was locked from the inside and there was no sign of violence on death bodies. Muggles were super interested as you said. – atayenel Sep 29 '17 at 8:25
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Because it would probably be caught on, and enforce by the Ministry of Magic. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we can see that both ministers are communicating, and when there's a crime against magic involved, then the ministry of magic get involved too.

‘Yes, of course,’ said Fudge, rubbing his eyes wearily and looking morosely at the Prime Minister. ‘I’ve been having the same week you have, Prime Minister. The Brockdale bridge … the Bones and Vance murders … not to mention the ruckus in the West Country …’

‘You – er – your – I mean to say, some of your people were – were involved in those – those things, were they?’ Fudge fixed the Prime Minister with a rather stern look.

‘Of course they were,’ he said. ‘Surely you’ve realised what’s going on?’

Of course, in this case the use of magic was extremely obvious. But in case of a robbery it would be less obvious.

But if a bank was robbed in an extremely mysterious manner, then surely the prime minister would probably suspect that some of those people are involved.

7

Note: as there is no canon answer to this, I will try to make assumptions, deductions and speculations.

First of all, it does violate the ISS. Wizards must not interfere with the Muggles unless it is necessary. By robbing a Muggle bank, a wizard does cause great interference. Use of Imperius is clearly a crime - this is an Unforgivable Curse, use of which is punished severely.

Then, the Wizarding community is relatively small. If a certain Wizard/Witch brings in a large amount of Muggle money, they will definitely cause suspicion, as Wizards do monitor the Muggle news for strange unexplained incidents, such as a robbery with no suspects, no witnesses and no evidence. The thief will not be able to exchange the stolen cash officially at Gringotts. So they have only two options: keep it and exchange small amounts to avoid suspicion, or go into hiding and live with the Muggles. For many Wizards (eg. pure-blood supremacists and muggle haters like Malfoy) this is clearly not an option.

Finally, if we imagine a Wizard bringing in say, some million pounds in Muggle money, they won't be able to exchange it because there is no demand for such amount - the Wizard economy is too small to accomodate it. Thus the exchange rate will fall. I don't know what would happen if they steal raw gold or precious jewels - the Wizarding black market may accept this.

On Mundungus - I doubt that he interferes with Muggles. There is enough to steal in the Wizarding world, as we see him smuggling stolen magical items in Deathly Hallows. He is not smart enough to rob a bank and not get caught/seen, and, given that Muggles nowadays do not carry loads of cash and jewelry, pickpocketing is not worth it. But, again, we don't know.

4

The exchange rates are stupid making muggle money effectively worthless to wizards. You might as well go out and say you're a multibillionaire in Zimbabwean Dollars.

Wizard money is silver and gold. Currently $1million is around 25kg of gold which in volume is around 1300cc. 1.3 litres. a.k.a. not a lot given the size of the average Gringotts vault as represented in the stories.

Unless someone has been watering the currency, there's no point robbing a muggle bank. Sell a couple of Galleons for raw material value on the open market.

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    Or, sell them as ancient Roman coins. Much more value. – MalayTheDynamo Sep 29 '17 at 12:44
  • A nice twist - this would in effect mean that even quite poor wizards could easily live wealthy muggle-lives by just trading in a few Galleons (poor for a wizard) at a muggle-bank for anough money to sustain a good live in a big muggle-city. – Falco Oct 2 '17 at 11:22
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    @Falco, technically it's a side effect of the fact JKR can't do maths but it makes some interesting options – Separatrix Oct 2 '17 at 11:42
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Could well be some are doing it. Easiest way would be to induce a high level bank employee with good knowledge of system to siphon funds off bank surreptitiously and take control of a large amount of proceeds. No need for brutal robbery when mind altering could do a lot more, not draw attention to wizardry AND things like covert stealing are happening in Muggle world ANYWAY, so doesn't draw wizards' attention. Just a simple pure Muggle crime, with a twist.

The main prerequisites for this, however, is good understanding of the Muggle world, which many wizards lack, so disqualifying the majority.

0

There's more to banks than "officials" and a few flunkies' memories to obliviate. Specifically, there are records, lots of records, both paper and electronic, and -- for the past 40 years -- cameras.

Thus, muggles would notice that money's gone and that means they'd call in law enforcement, and they'd start digging and finding inconsistencies.

EDIT: using a spell to modify all records of that money would require knowledge of every type of record that the bank stores, and how to modify them so as to retain consistency. Wizards aren't supposed to know that much anout the Muggle world, and this requires a lot of very detailed, very specific knowledge about the Muggle world.

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    There are spells to even clear all records. Remember, how Hermione was able to completely erase herself from her family.. – Captain Cold Sep 29 '17 at 14:52
  • @ChristieRomanowski I'll edit my answer with a rebuttal. – RonJohn Sep 29 '17 at 14:58
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As most of the other excellent answers are mostly speculation, let me suggest something else: Greed is not a motivating factor in the wizarding world, at least compared to the Muggle world.

Case in point: When Newt Scamander finds himself inside a bank vault, he has no interest in keeping any of the valuables inside.

I know that's just one example, but why are some Muggles greedy? Some want money in order to buy things they want. But wizards and witches can simply use magic. Need a bigger house? Extension charm.

Why else do Muggles covet money? To use it to wield influence: for power. Of course, witches and wizards have magic! We see Voldemort directly using magic to gain power over the wizarding world. His ultimate goal, of course, was the subjugation of Muggles, and once again to do that he would not need money.

As far as Dung Fletcher goes, I think he's just lazy with very little ability. He has to resort to Muggle means (acquisition and sale of objects) to survive. The ordinary magical person, however, would have enough magic to make money have much less value that it does to Muggles.

  • I don't think you can conjure Nimbus 2000 out of thin air using magic.. – Captain Cold Oct 18 '17 at 17:42
  • @Discovery True, but do people rob banks or knock over liquor stores to buy a new car? – scott Oct 18 '17 at 17:48
  • Why else do you think people rob banks? – Captain Cold Oct 19 '17 at 5:18
  • You can't buy a car with stolen cash. But you could buy drugs, TVs, clothes, CDs, etc. Remember, the only two times that someone robbed Gringotts (that we know of) was NOT to take money, but something more valuable. – scott Oct 19 '17 at 21:55
  • You can buy car using stolen gold.. Talking about Gringotts robbing, robbers don't represent average wizards. – Captain Cold Oct 20 '17 at 3:59

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