A pile of $20 bills on a table.

CBP Seizes $11k Cash from Vietnamese Couple at Dulles

Customs officers at Dulles airport seized more than $11,000 from a couple traveling to Vietnam. According to the story, they originally reported traveling with $4,000; then changed that to $7,000; then made a written report that they had $9,000; and ultimately, were found to have $11,822.

The law which requires the report, 31 USC 5316, essentially requires that you make the report in writing. Technically, if you are about to leave the country and have made no effort to report the money to CBP, you are in violation of the reporting requirement — because clearly you are attempting to break the law (by act or omission). So, even if this couple had made a fully accurate report the first time they were asked, they could still be responsible for a currency reporting violation under 31 USC 5316.

The other important thing to note is that the report must be accurate down to the penny, or the reporter would still be in violation of the reporting requirement, and could have all their cash seized by Customs.

You can read all about the currency reporting laws, and what to do when you’ve had your money seized by accessing our customs money seizure legal guide.

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers continue to enforce a variety of U.S. laws at Washington Dulles International Airport, including [ . . . ] seizing $11,822 of unreported currency from a Vietnam-bound couple.

CBP is not releasing the travelers’ names because none was criminally charged.

During outbound inspection operations Tuesday, CBP officers seized $11,882 in unreported currency from a couple boarding a flight to Vietnam.  The couple verbally reported that they possessed $4,000.  After officers read the currency reporting requirements, the couple stated they possessed $7,000, then they wrote down that they possessed $9,000.  An examination revealed currency in the woman’s purse, and additional currency concealed in one of two pairs of pants the man wore.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

CBP officers provided a humanitarian monetary release of $322 to the couple, and released them to continue their travel.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

Over $140,000 in cash stacked in piles on a table after seizure by CBP at Dulles airport

3 Airport Cash Seizures at Dulles Result in $140,000 Seized

Customs officers in Dulles continue their high-profile cash seizures, by seizing more than nearly $150,000 in three separate seizure incidents from travelers heading to Ghana.

In this story, CBP reports that in the first seizure CBP seized cash valued at more than $100,000 from a man who leaving the United States destined for Accra, Ghana, who only claimed he was traveling with $2,000.

In the second cash seizure incident at Dulles, a man was arriving from Ghana who was carrying $20,000.

In the third incident, a man leaving for Ghana reported only transporting $5,000, but in reality had more than $23,000.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $143,968 in unreported currency from two men who departed for Ghana and one who arrived from Ghana in three separate incidents during the weekend at Washington Dulles International Airport.

CBP is not releasing the travelers’ names because none was criminally charged.

During outbound inspection operations Sunday, CBP officers seized $100,111 from a man destined to Accra, Ghana who initially claimed that he possessed $2,000. CBP officers discovered $10,000 in each of 10 bank envelopes in the man’s backpack.

Earlier Sunday, CBP officers seized $20,031 from a man who arrived from Ghana who initially reported that he possessed $10,000. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered an additional $10,000 wrapped in a t-shirt in the man’s carry-on bag, plus another $31 in loose pocket currency.

On Saturday, CBP officers seized $23,826 from a man bound for Ghana after a currency detector dog alerted to his carry-on bag. The man initially reported that he possessed $5,000. A baggage exam revealed $23,826 in a suit jacket and camera bag.

All three seizures seem to fairly involve bulk cash smuggling, which means that I expect Dulles to try to keep around 50% of the seized cash as a penalty.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

An image of a traveler's with $10,000 sewn into his pants which was seized by uscbU.S. Customs & Border Protection

Boston CBP Seizes Cash Sewn into Pants

CBP officers at Boston’s Logan airport seized nearly $30,000 from a man who was returning from Israel. The story, detailed below, reveals that the money reported traveling with $14,000; CBP inspected his bags, discovered another $4,000 which led to a more intensive search. It was at this point that they discovered $10,000 sewn into the lining of his pants. CBP seized the cash.

The bulk cash smuggling law states:

Whoever, with the intent to evade a currency reporting requirement under section 5316, knowingly conceals more than $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments on the person of such individual . . . shall be guilty of a currency smuggling offense . . . . the concealment of currency on the person of any individual includes concealment in any article of clothing worn by the individual . . .

Sewing it $10,000 into your pants is classic, along with not reporting the full amount you are carrying in other places, is classic bulk cash smuggling. Here’s the full story from CBP

BOSTON – On January 18, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Logan International Airport intercepted an inbound traveler found with a stack of concealed currency sewn into the lining of his pants.

The subject, a 51-year-old male, U.S. citizen arriving on a flight from Israel, reported to officers that he was carrying $7,000 and an extra $7,000 for a family friend. During a baggage examination, the subject presented approximately $18,000 however, further inspection revealed an additional $10,000 sewn into the pockets of his pants. In total, CBP officers discovered and seized more than $29,000.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States. Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form. None of the currency is taxed.

“There is no limit to how much money a traveler can carry, but it is important to honestly declare the total amount to CBP officers during inspection,” said Boston Area Port Director Clint Lamm. “This seizure exemplifies that violating currency reporting laws can have serious consequences.”

According to NECN, “During a baggage examination, officers found another $4,000 in his luggage. An additional $10,000 was found sewn into the pockets of his pants, a discovery the department is referring to as ‘hot pockets.'”

Have you had cash seized at Boston Logan airport?

If you’ve had cash seized at Boston Logan airport, you can learn more from our trusted legal guide to a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.
A copy of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit featuring the case of the incomplete check seized by CBP

Detroit CBP Forfeits Seized Cash by Notices

There have not been many news releases by CBP about cash seizures, but just because it’s not hitting the news doesn’t mean anything has changed. For example, CBP in Detroit is still seizing cash at Detroit Metro Airport (and of course, to a lesser extent, the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel). To get a glimpse of their activity, we can look to the notices of seizure and intent to forfeit postings that the government is required to make on the foreiture.gov website.

Once CBP takes money, there are several ways to try to get it back. Most of these are shown on the election of proceedings form. If they can’t successfully get the money back, or they choose to file a claim, the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit is published.

From mid-December until now, here are all the cases where money was seized and the notice has been published, along with my comments on each case:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: January 12, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: February 11, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: March 13, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2018380700037501-001-0000, Seized on 01/05/2018; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 323; EA; Valued at $31,261.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317

Above, the cash was seized at Detroit Metro on 1/5, and the posting was made on January 12. Typically, CBP sends out a notice of seizure letter to those with a known interest in the money and then, if not responded to within 35 days, the notice gets published online. So this short period of time between seizure and publication only makes sense to me if the person who had their money seized abandoned the cash or, immediately they filed a claim.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: January 05, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: February 04, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: March 06, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2017380700124801-001-0000, Seized on 05/26/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 263; EA; Valued at $26,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Above is a more expected situation, where the money was seized in May 2017 (for failure to report and for structuring), but the first publication of the intent to forfeit was not until January. This tells me that it is very likely that the administrative resolution was unsuccessful (e.g., they filed an administrative petition and it was unsuccessful). That usually means a bad lawyer, no lawyer, or insufficient documentation showing legitimate source and use of the seized cash. Some people give up at this point, which is usually a poor decision. You’ve got to keep trying and file a claim, but you’ll meet with the same fate unless you get an experienced attorney.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: December 29, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: January 28, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 27, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2017380700064601-001-0000, Seized on 01/25/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 250; EA; Valued at $25,000.00; For violation of 19USC1607, 19USC162.45, 19USC983(A)(2)

The also looks like the administrative options failed. But this one puzzles me another reason, because the reasons listed for seizure don’t appear to be right. All of the law or regulations cited there are for the summary forfeiture statute, which only describes the process used for forfeiting property that is valued at less than $500,000. In other words, those laws do not describe a crime but instead just direct the government to publish notice in a certain way. It looks like someone at CBP sent the wrong information in for publishing.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: December 15, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: January 14, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 13, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2018380100011101-001-0000, Seized on 11/09/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY; 878; EA; Valued at $20,106.00; For violation of 18USC981(A)(1)(C), 18USC1956(C)(7)(A), 18USC1961(1)(D),21USC841,21USC881,, 21USC846

2018380700026301-001-0000, Seized on 12/01/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 520; EA; Valued at $48,293.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5332

Finally, the first of the two listed here was seized not for a failure to report the cash, but instead because the money was suspected to be involved in some illegal activity. The case number tells me that this occurred at one of the land border crossings in Detroit, where such a situation is more likely to occur than at the Detroit Metro Airport.

The final case shows the money was seized on December 1, and the notice was published on December 15. That tells me that the person, rather than electing administrative proceedings, chose to file a claim and set their case up for decision by a judge. Typically, that’s a bad idea; it’s usually better to give administrative remedies a chance first, but not always. It could be someone made this decision without a lawyer, or hired a lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Is Detroit CBP forfeiting your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized and is forfeiting your cash, you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.
WPM Mark

Regulated Wood Packaging Material (WPM) and Penalties

Nearly 5 years ago, we blogged about Regulated Wood Packaging Material (WPM) violations, and the trouble it can get importers into. You can read all about that in Regulated Wood Packaging Material Customs Violations. CBP’s page with links to various WPM resources is accessible on CBP’s website HERE.

But, now something has changed. Pursuant to the old CBP guidelines, an importer could have 5 WPM violations in one year before they were penalized. However, as of November 1, 2017, and importer is liable for a penalty in the first instance of a WPM violation.

The new frequently asked questions published by CBP and summarize the change thus “Effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty. This is a change from the previous published tolerance of five WPM violations.”

This change was initially broadcast through customs Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS #17-000612). That message states the reason for the change in enforcement as follows:

To motivate WPM compliance, effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with a documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty under Title 19 United States Code (USC) § 1595a(b) or under 19 USC § 1592.  This is a change from the previous published threshold of 5 violations.  There will be no yearly reset for calculating repeat violations as each WPM violation may incur a penalty.

So, importers: be motivated.

Can an application to separate violative wood packaging material still be filed?

Yes, the new guidelines still permit importer’s to file an application to separate violative wood packaging material to avoid re-importation of the merchandise.

If you have been informed that you wood packaging material is in violation of the law and needs to be re-exported, immediately contact us and we can prepare an application to separate violative wood packaging material so that, if it is granted, you do not have to undergo the time and expense of re-exporting the merchandise you are trying to import.

Can WPM penalties be mitigated?

Yes, WPM penalties can be mitigated. Never pay full price in a penalty proceeding! If you have received a notice of penalty or liquidated damages and are being told you must pay as a result of the violation, immediately call or e-mail our office at (734) 855-4999 and we can prepare a petition for mitigation of the penalty amount.

Stacks of cash that Houston CBP seized from travelers leaving the country

Houston CBP Seizes $100K Cash from Travelers

It’s been almost a year since CBP reported on Houston airport cash seizures (the last story is here), even though CBP taking cash at Houston airport is pretty common. As with all CBP money seizures, the money is most typically taken by CBP for a failure to report it, structuring it, or smuggling it. In this story, a couple was carrying $110,204 to Taiwan — but only reported $50,000. Here’s the full article:

HOUSTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized over $100,000 Dec.7 after travelers made repeated inaccurate reports about the amount of money they were carrying.

“International travelers can carry an unlimited amount of money traveling into or departing from the U.S., but are required to report currency over $10,000,” said Houston CBP Acting Port Director Steven Scofield. “Those who refuse to comply with the federal reporting requirements face the risk of having the currency seized.”

Two passengers, both U.S. citizens, traveling from Houston to Taiwan were selected for a baggage inspection. The travelers were given multiple opportunities to truthfully declare the amount of money they were carrying. The couple reported carrying just over $50,000, however, CBP officers found $110, 204 in the travelers’ respective wallet, purse, backpack and jacket.

The currency was seized by CBP as the travelers failed to properly report the money as required by U.S. law. The travelers were released to continue on with their travels.

Too bad, and so sad. This cash seizure could have been complete avoided by properly reporting the cash to customs before (or even at the time of) departure.

Was your money seized at Houston airport?

If you’ve had money seized at Houston airport by CBP you can learn more from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

A picture of seized cash in an evidence bag from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Baltimore CBP Seizes $16k in Unreported Cash

Back in October, I blogged about a cash seizure in Baltimore and said that the port of Baltimore doesn’t make it into the news too much for cash seizures. Of course, because I posted that about a month later there is a report of another cash seizure coming out of Baltimore for a failure to accurately report all money to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when leaving the United States.

Here is the full story (original here):

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $16,100 from a Nigerian man at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Monday.

The man, who CBP has not named because he was not criminally charged, initially reported to officers that he possessed $1,500.  During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered a $10,000 stack of currency and a $6,100 stack of currency.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

“The United States is a welcoming nation.  All we ask is that visitors respect our nation’s laws and truthfully report all currency they possess during an inspection with a Customs and Border Protection officer,” said Dianna Bowman, CBP Area Port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore.

Have you had cash seized from CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport?

If CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport has seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

An image of cash seized by Customs at Dulles airport while traveling to Ghana

Dulles CBP Seizes $40k Cash Unreported

Dulles continues to be the leading source for news-releases pertaining to cash seizures for more than $10,000 for failure to report to Customs, or bulk cash smuggling, and the related offenses under Title 31 of the United States Code. In this particular story (original here), Customs seized $40,000 from a man who reported traveling with $25,000.

Upon making that report he completed a FinCEN 105 form (probably under some duress) for that same amount. At this point (as they always do), CBP conducted a complete search of his person and baggage to determine if he was telling the truth. As is frequently the case, he was not. In fact, they discovered another $10,000 in a white envelope and another $5,400 in some other places. Here is the full story:

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $40,900 from a man boarding a flight to Ghana last Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The man, who CBP has not named because he was not criminally charged, initially reported to officers that he possessed $500.  After officers advised the man of U.S. currency reporting regulations, the man presented three white envelopes that contained $25,000, and reported that much on a financial reporting form.

CBP officers then discovered a manila envelope with $10,000, an additional white envelope in the man’s backpack that contained $5,000, and $400 more in his wallet.  The combined currency equaled $40,900.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

CBP Atlanta Seizes over $500k in Counterfeit Cash

There could have been a big cash seizure in Atlanta by CBP, if only the cash was not counterfeit. CBP Atlanta released some news about this very large would-be-cash-seizure, that happened on Halloween.  The man who tried to bring it in was a U.S. citizen return from Peru. All the money was hidden, and it was confirmed counterfeit by the United States Secret Service.

It was Halloween however, alert U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at Hartsfield -Jackson Atlanta International Airport couldn’t be tricked by a man attempting to smuggle half a million dollars in counterfeit U.S. currency. CBP officer’s Tuesday, intercepted the 62-year old U.S. Citizen arriving from Peru who had attempted to hide $509,700 in counterfeit U.S. $100 bills in his baggage.

“This seizure demonstrates how U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s border search authority protects American businesses and consumers against counterfeit currency and other illicit products that pose potential harm to our nation and to our economy.” said Carey Davis, CBP’s Port Director for the Area Port of Atlanta. “This is our Border Security work at its finest, and we are proud of the officers involved.”

Agents from the U.S. Secret Service arrived and confirmed that the $100 bills were counterfeit. Secret Service agents took custody of the fake currency and individual. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia is prosecuting.

Has Atlanta CBP seized your cash?

If Atlanta CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Texas CBP seized cash. A picture of 19 stacks of $20 and $100 bills part of the cash seized by CBP at Hidalgo International Bridge

Officers seize more than $500,000 at Hidalgo Port of Entry

Here’s a story that — to my knowledge — didn’t hit the CBP news release system, but ended up being reported by a news station local to Hidalgo, Texas, about the seizure of more than half-million dollars cash that was hidden in an unassuming vehicle heading to Mexico.

In this story, someone was criminally charged (name redacted here, it’s none of my business to further publicize anyone’s name); he stated to police Homeland Security agents that he was paid $1,000 to try to move the cash to Mexico:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than $500,000 at the Hidalgo Port of Entry on Wednesday, according to a federal criminal complaint. At about 10:15 p.m., officers referred a black 2013 Nissan to secondary inspection. During a search of the Nissan, officers found 32 vacuum-sealed packages and 28 loose bundles of U.S. currency hidden behind the rear seat, totaling $532, 255.
During questioning with Homeland Security Investigations agents, the driver of the vehicle, [redacted], said he would have been paid $1,000 after transporting the currency into Mexico.
[He] was charged with intentionally concealing currency with the intent to transport outside the U.S. [His] attorney wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday.

Have you had cash seized by CBP?

If you’ve had cash seized CBP in Hidalgo, you can learn more about the process from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.