Category: customs cash seizure

Champlain, NY, border crossing with large stop sign where Customs and Border Protection seized money inspecting a vehicle.

Customs and Border Protection Seized Money in Champlain

Annually, ports across the country release news stories about the previous twelve months of enforcement activity. In Champlain, New York, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized money on 3 different occasions that made it into their “Top 10 Seizures and Arrests for 2015.”

Customs and Border Protection seized money in these three cases but we only previously reported on the $24,000 seized on an Amtrak train.

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations has compiled its top 10 seizures and arrests for 2015 at the Area Port of Champlain.  The list of seizures underscores the important role CBP officers play in protecting the country.

The following seizures represent the array of threats encountered at the Area Port of Champlain in both the commercial and passenger environments.  They further portray the efforts of CBP employees to prevent the import of illegal items and protect the commerce of the U.S.

  1. January 4, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $24,671

CBP officers inspecting passengers onboard the Amtrak train at Rouses Point, N.Y., encountered a female U.S. citizen who stated she was coming back from Cuba.  The subject had marked “no” to question 13 on Form 6059B (Customs Declaration) that she had filled out and signed, thus declaring that she was not in possession of over $10,000 U.S. dollars or its equivalent.  The subject was sent for a secondary examination to verify she had no prohibited Cuban goods in her possession.  During examination, it was discovered that she was travelling with $24,671 in unreported currency hidden in her luggage.

The other two stories, quoted below, apparently never made it into the headlines at the time Customs and Border Protection seized money. They are interesting in that the first story involves bulk cash smuggling by a 75 year old lady, and the second involves fraud in that the money was derived from cash advances taken out against credit cards without the intention of repayment. In both cases, Customs and Border Protection seized money.
  1. April 20, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $122,687

CBP officers at the Port of Champlain referred a 75-year-old Canadian female for secondary inspection to verify the answers she gave during primary inspection to basic questions.  During the secondary inspection, a search resulted in the discovery of unreported currency totaling $122,686 U.S. dollars and its equivalent hidden in luggage.  The currency was seized.

  1. June 1, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $38,220

CBP Officers at the Port of Champlain referred two Canadian-born sisters, who each declared $10,000 dollars in Canadian Currency, for a secondary inspection.  During the secondary inspection, it was discovered that they were structuring money for a third individual, who was also applying for admission to the U.S., to avoid reporting requirements.  Further examination revealed that the money had been obtained by taking out cash advances from credit cards with no intention of repayment.  In total, $38,220 dollars in Canadian currency was seized.

Has Customs and Border Protection seized money from you?

If Customs and Border Protection seized money from you, 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.

The back of a CBP officer's shirt reading "CBP Federal Officer" in bold yellow letters.

Newark Airport Cash Seizure from Pilot

Customs seized cash at Newark airport from a commercial airline pilot for bulk cash smuggling. That’s the story reported by the Mumbai Mirror, which states that the pilot tried to smuggle $200,000 in without reporting it to customs and by concealing it inside a newspaper when he attempted to make entry at Newark airport after a trip to Mumbai.

He was arrested and is now being criminally charging him with bulk cash smuggling and making false statements. According to the story, he faces up 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 as a consequence for his false statements and bulk cash smuggling at Newark Airport. The full story is here:

An American commercial airline pilot has been arrested for trying to smuggle in nearly $200,000 in undeclared currency at a Newark airport shortly after arriving as a passenger on a flight from Mumbai.

Anthony Warner, 55, a resident of Dallas, Texas, was arrested at the Newark Liberty International Airport by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and charged with bulk cash smuggling and making false statements.

Officials said that US immigration and customs enforcement agents would not known that Warner was carrying the cash wrapped in a newspaper, besides 10 rings, earrings and other jewellery if the global entry kiosk computer system was in order. A physical screening of baggage led to his arrest. Warner, a commercial pilot, possessed a global entry card that allows for quick clearance when entering the US, officials said.

The complaint said Warner declared he was bringing into the country nothing of value except for $180. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, the US Attorney’s office said. Warner was released on $100,000 bond after his initial appearance before US Magistrate Judge Steven C Mannion.

The reason I share this story is to strongly warn people, whether customs seized cash at Newark airport or any other airport, if it is alleged the cash seizure was for bulk cash smuggling, call us for a free currency seizure consultation because you risk losing all of your money, even if not criminally charged!

It’s interesting that he was not only bulk smuggling cash but also some rings and other jewelry. It certainly sounds a little bit suspicious. But I’m not sure what I suspect, other than the story is a little strange. Why would an airline pilot risk customs seizing cash at the airport, his jewelry, loss of his job, and prison time if this was not connected to some other criminal activity?

Did customs seize cash from you at  Newark airport?

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

 

Stacks of Money Seized at Houston Airport in front of a Homeland Security Seal

$40k Money Seized at Houston Airport by CBP

According to this story, about $40,000 in money seized at Houston Airport by Customs & Border Protection

Stacks of Money Seized at Houston Airport in front of a Homeland Security Seal
Money Seized at Houston Airport by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”)

(CBP) was on its way to Turkey.

This is the tale of a classic failure to report cash to customs, which also might have involved a language barrier (e.g., the reporter could have meant to say “forty-thousand” instead of “four-thousand” if English was the person’s second language). But, in our last post we noted that if Customs has to ask you to report money over $10,000 and you haven’t already filed a FinCen 105 form, you’ve already violated the law.

Here’s the money seizure storm from Houston airport CBP:

HOUSTON– U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday seized more than $40,000 in unreported currency in an outbound enforcement action involving a departing air passenger bound for Turkey.

The [money seized at Houston airport] occurred on Thursday, Jan. 7 when CBP officers conducting outbound enforcement operations observed departing air passengers on a flight bound for Istanbul, Turkey and selected a 73-year-old male U.S. citizen passenger for a secondary inspection after a CBP canine alerted to his luggage. During the examination, the passenger declared $4,000 but subsequent examination by CBP officers revealed a total of $40,091 in unreported currency within his luggage. CBP officers seized the unreported currency.

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 legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

U.S. Money Seized by Customs (CBP) Stacked on a Table with Envelopes

CBP Confiscated Cash of $18,000 at Dulles

CBP confiscated cash of $18,000 at Dulles Airport from a family bound for Lebanon. The family verbally reported $12,000 cash to customs, then completed a FinCEN 105 form for $14,100.
Upon inspection, CBP discovered they actually had the equivalent of approximately $18,000, consisting of Euros and U.S. dollars.1
The real issue we want to address in this CBP cash confiscation story is the “verbal report” the family made. The CBP cash reporting regulations state that the cash report shall be filed “at the time of entry into the United States or at the time of departure . . . . with the Customs officer in charge”.
So, if you are stopped and make an accurate report of cash to Customs without filing a written report of cash on FinCEN 105, you’ve already violated the law. So even assuming the verbal report by the Lebanese family was accurate, there would still be a violation of the currency reporting requirement. A report of cash to CBP must be accurate, in writing, and on time! Otherwise, you’ll next person from who CBP confiscated cash.

Here’s the story about how CBP confiscated cash at Dulles:

CBP officers seized $18,592 on Thursday from a Lebanon-bound family for failure to comply with federal currency reporting regulations. A CBP currency canine alerted to the family on the jetway. The family verbally reported $12,000, and then reported $14,100 on a U.S. Treasury Department currency reporting form after a CBP officer explained the law. A baggage inspection revealed several white envelopes that contained a total of $17,428 in U.S. dollars and 1,164 Euros. CBP officers seized the U.S. currency, released the Euros to the family, and then released the family to continue their trip.
If CBP confiscated cash from you, 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.
  1. The story notes that money was in “several white envelopes”, which could lead to allegations of bulk cash smuggling. We’ve talked about bulk cash smuggling in depth; and be forewarned, if Dulles alleges bulk cash smuggling after CBP confiscated cash, you are going to permanently lose a substantial amount of your money. Read about it at $16k Dulles Airport Currency Seizure by CBP or at Cash seized at Dulles airport by CBP or at Dulles Airport Cash Seizure Nets CBP $40K or at Dulles Airport Money Seizure by Customs of $43,015, just to name a few. []
Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure nets $145,000 USD

Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure Nets $145k

A Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure occurred in what would be unusual circumstances for average client of our customs law firm. The seizure happened on a boat “near” the waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands during a maritime patrol. Usually our clients face a money seizure at an airport or land border crossing, not on the open water.

Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure nets $145,000 USD
Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure nets $145,000 USD

It is also unusual that there was no failure to report cash; rather, the money was seized primarily due to suspicious circumstances surrounding the encounter. CBP inspected the boat at a local marina and one of the three individuals in the boat tried to get away. That person was in possession of a brown bag with $145,000.

Now, aside from a possible failure to report cash – which is not clear in these circumstances (recall a report only needs to made at the time of entry or exit from the U.S.) – the money was seized under a kind of “catch-all” law that allows the government to seize cash if they believe it is connected to basically any illegal activity.

Let’s have a look at the Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents seized $145,000 from a vessel operated by 3 US citizens. All subjects were released pending further investigation.

“Our agents remain vigilant for illegal smuggling operations, as well as money laundering,” stated Johnny Morales Director of Air Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. During a maritime patrol, a St. Thomas-based marine crew located a vessel with 3 men traversing around the waters of the US Virgin Islands.

The vessel heaved and was escorted for inspection into a local marina, where one of the vessel occupants attempted to flee and was subsequently detained.  He had a brown bag which contained a significant amount of US currency.

The bag contained $145,000 which was seized for a civil forfeiture under title 18 USC section 981.

The story can be accessed here. If you’ve experienced a Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure, you can learn more from our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Picture of what the cash seized at Dulles airport looked similar to.

Cash seized at Dulles airport by CBP

A Chinese traveler had cash seized at Dulles airport, again, last week. This time it was $20,377, instead of $16,000 in cash seized by CBP there last week.

Dulles airport CBP seems to be on a roll. This story has the man reporting $10,000, but carrying $20,377 on his person and in his luggage. In addition to the failure to report, that failure to report combined with the presence of the money in the luggage could be the basis for an allegation of bulk cash smuggling.

Here’s the story about the cash seized at Dulles airport last week (as told by CBP):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized $20,377 Monday from a Chinese citizen for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The man, who arrived on a flight from China, declared to CBP officers that he was carrying $10,000 and completed a financial form reporting the same. However; CBP officers discovered a total of $20,377 on his person and in his luggage. CBP officers seized the $20,377 and advised him how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

Always remember, legitimate source and legitimate use of the seized cash must be proven before Customs is legally required to consider returning the money. The types of documentation that is needed to prove this varies in every situation, and documentation should only be provided to CBP after

Picture of what the cash seized at Dulles airport looked similar to.
A Chinese citizen had cash seized at Dulles airport.

consultation with an attorney (here’s why). A customs lawyer will have a much better chance at getting your cash returned than doing it on your own.

If you’ve had cash seized at Dulles airport, or another airport, you can learn more from our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

A pile of $20 bills on a table.

$16k Dulles Airport Currency Seizure by CBP

A Dulles airport currency seizure of $16,000 by CBP was reported by Customs this week. The seizure

A pile of $20 bills on a table, similar to the Dulles airport currency seizure case mentioned in this article
A Dulles airport currency seizure resulted in the seizure of $16,000 by CBP.

occurred last Thursday, when a woman traveling to Ghana was stopped and searched by Customs when she failed to report traveling with $6,951 more than she had.

According to the story, the currency was found in both her luggage and on her person; CBP may use this as a basis to allege not only a failure to report, but also bulk cash smuggling. If Dulles alleges bulk cash smuggling as reason they seized the money in the notice of seizure, this lady will almost certainly be looking at a huge loss of money as a penalty, even if she can prove it came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use. This is because bulk cash smuggling permits Customs to keep more of the money as a penalty.

Here is the excerpt from the full Customs Dulles airport currency seizure story:

A woman boarding a flight to Ghana was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on an international flight. The woman completed a financial form, reporting $10,000, however; a total of $16,951 in U.S. and foreign currency was discovered on her person and in her luggage. CBP officers seized the $16,951, returned the equivalent of $192 in foreign currency as humanitarian relief, and advised her how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

As I’ve said before, don’t take legal advice from Customs. Depending on the source of the money and the circumstances of the seizure filing an administrative petition might not be her best option; it could be that filing a claim, making an offer in compromise, or filing a petition in the federal court are the best options. If you’ve experienced a Customs Dulles airport currency seizure use our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure or contact us for a free currency seizure consultation!

Stacks of $100 bills in row after a customs currency seizure in a story about reporting currency in the Caribbean.

Reporting Currency in the Caribbean (CBP Reminder)

U.S. Customs (CBP) has issued a public reminder on reporting currency in the Caribbean to travelers to when either entering the United States or at their preclearance facilities in Nassau or other foreign countries. This is might be connected with the recent Caribbean traveler who did not report $45,000 in currency that we blogged about.

Here’s the reminder from CBP on reporting currency in the Caribbean directed at travelers:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seen a recent spike among Caribbean travelers who are not reporting the required currency amount to CBP officers at ports of entry upon entering or departing the United States.

 

Stacks of $100 bills in row after a customs currency seizure in a story about reporting currency in the Caribbean.
Reporting currency in the Caribbean is a requirement when entering or leaving the United States and at CBP preclearance centers.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., but if it is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP using a Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network FinCEN Form 105.

 

If travelers have someone else carry the currency or monetary instrument for them, they must file a currency report for the entire amount with CBP. Failure to report [cash] carries serious consequences.

 

“It is important for all travelers to make an accurate declaration of all monetary instruments,” said Jeff Mara, CBP port director for Nassau Preclearance. “Upon a failure to do so, they not only face the possibility of a penalty or seizure of all their funds, but they also face potential criminal prosecution.”

This reminder on reporting currency in the Caribbean should not fall on deaf ears. In our legal roadmap of a customs money seizure we provide a detailed explanation of the consequences of traveling with money and not report that money to CBP, and why you should be extraordinarily careful in what you do and say in trying to get the money back.

We have been trusted by over 130 people, as shown in our case results section, to help get their seized currency returned.

Port of Buffalo, N.Y. border crossing check point where cbp seized cash for currency reporting violations.

Port of Buffalo Customs Currency Seizures by the Numbers (FY 2014)

Last week the Port of Buffalo released its enforcement data for 2014. I do not have any other regional data from other ports to compare it to, but it is clear that there are far more customs currency seizures at the Port of Detroit than at the Port of Buffalo.

For the fiscal year 2014, the Port of Buffalo in New York seized $267,323 in a total of 22 currency seizures; on average then, each seizure would be about $12,100. In comparison, in the Port of Detroit in Michigan for fiscal year 2013, customs seized more than $5 million at places like Detroit Metro Airport, The Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. For the same period of time the national daily average of currency seizures by Customs was $650,000.

Has Buffalo CBP seized cash from you?

If Buffalo CBP seized cash from 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.

 

 

Seizure of $325,000 Smuggled leaving Puerto Rico

As picked up by the Associated Press, Customs seized over $325,000 in cash after finding it hidden inside a TV and two refrigerators (i.e., in other words, if done with intent to evade the currency report requirements, smuggled) on its export from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic. What the story does say is that anybody was arrested. But that an investigation is continuing, and as explained, the government typically has 5 years to bring criminal charges for currency reporting violations/seizures.

To me, this doesn’t necessarily sound like the money was connected to unlawful activity; a toy gun, some appliances, and… well, that’s really it. There was an alert by a K-9 to the presence of narcotics in some of the currency, but that alone doesn’t prove much. The presence of drugs on currency is widely acknowledged and does not necessarily mean the owners of the currency had any involvement with the drugs themselves, other than innocently owning some dirty money.

The CBP news release contains the most details:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers stopped an illegal exportation of currency when officers searched an outbound container booked on the M/V Caribbean Fantasy Ferry destined to the Dominican Republic.Customs Money Seizure

On January 27, CBP officers performed a physical inspection of all cargo inside a container destined to the Dominican Republic as part of outbound screening operations.  Utilizing high tech equipment, CBP officers discovered a smuggling attempt of approximately $185,500 hidden in several items, including two refrigerators and a 32” Television set.   They also found a Replica Pistol that fires blanks.

In the same container, a CBP canine alerted to the presence of narcotics on a box of personal effects and household goods.  Physical inspection revealed several packages of currency wrapped in carbon paper, summing $139,980 US dollars.

In total, approximately $325,480 was seized.  “This is a significant money seizure,” said San Juan Area Port Director Juan Hurtado.  “The currency seized represents more than just money lost by drug trafficking organizations.  These revenues are what supply the weapons and other means these organizations use for their illicit activities”.

CBP officers seized the hidden contraband and Homeland Security Investigation agents will continue the investigation.  Local and federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico will continue to work together to disrupt criminal activity in the island.

If I were the owner of this container, I would contact a customs lawyer immediately. Great Lakes Customs Law handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country. If CBP seized cash from 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.