Category: customs cash seizure

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.

 

CBP Seizes Total of $37K in Money at Airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) at Dulles airport has once again demonstrated its money-seizing prowess in a news release about yet another customs airport money seizures . In the story, Customs seized money totaling approximately $37,000 from two different sets of people. If you have questions about customs money seizures, get a free currency seizure consultation and read up about the process with our customs money seizure legal guide.

The story itself showcases how irrational a person can be when panicked, which like almost all law enforcement encounters, tips of the scales in favor of law enforcement. When confronting a uniformed customs agent otherwise rational people will do irrational things, such as denying possessing more than $10,000 in writing, verbally reporting more than $10,050, and then seconds later willingly handing over more than $22,000; or reporting $6,000 and then turning over 6 envelopes containing $15,215. It’s not at all uncommon, and most of my clients will tell me that they just panicked and can’t explain why they did what they did.

Let’s have a look at this story from CBP at Dulles Airport now:

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized about $37,000 in unreported currency from two groups of travelers Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

Two men from China arrived from Beijing and answered “no” on a CBP Declaration form that they possessed currency of $10,000 or more. After questioning, the travelers then verbally reported to a CBP officer that they had more than $10,000.The men completed a U.S. Treasury Department form reporting $10,000 in U.S Cash Seizure by Customsdollars and $50 in Chinese Yen. During a baggage examination, the men handed a CBP officer two envelopes and a wallet that contained a total of $22,238.

In a second seizure, CBP officers stopped a Northern Virginia couple boarding an outbound international flight. The couple reported verbally and in writing that they possessed a total of $6,000. During the examination, the couple produced six stacks of currency separately concealed on their bodies and in a purse. The total amount of currency equaled $15,215 in U.S dollars. CBP released $215 to the couple for humanitarian purposes, and seized the rest.

None of the four was criminally charged. CBP released them to continue their trips.

There is no limit to how much currency travelers may bring to, or take from the U.S. However, federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency. Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers presented these travelers multiple opportunities to report all of the currency they had in their possession. It’s the law. Hopefully, this is a lesson to all travelers that the easiest way to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it to a CBP officer,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Washington Dulles.

These folks were not arrested by CBP at Dulles airport, but of course the government has 5 years to criminally charge them. Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country.

You can educate yourself using our trusted “customs money seizure legal guide” to understand what to do if CBP at Dulles airport seized cash from you and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

CBP Seizes Currency after Admission of Structuring Violations

Lady luck, like fortune, is fickle. This man’s luck — and his casino winnings — disappeared at the border when he counter Customs, who confiscated his winnings.

The guy had some cash from casino winnings confiscated by Customs while gambling in the Bahamas. He was en route to the United States, when he decided to break the law. Apparently fearing the unknown, he decided to divide the money up among 5 people so he would not have to file a currency report.That’s illegal structuring.

When Customs asked him why he divided up the money, he said it was so he did not have to file a currency report (FinCen 105). That’s an admission of illegal structuring. Law enforcement didn’t have to do any other work to confiscate casino winnings or hard earned money if you admit you violated the law.

Here are the details of the case of the “casino winnings” confiscated by Customs:

Nassau, BAHAMAS –U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nassau CBP Preclearance facility seized $63,851 in unreported currency from a U.S. citizen who was subsequently arrested by the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Dec. 8.

CBP officers at the Nassau Preclearance facility referred five male U.S. citizens for a secondary inspection after they each declared to be in possession of $9,000 U.S. dollars. Three men were en Customs Classification and Valuationroute to JFK and two men were en route to Newark.

Upon further questioning, one of the passengers admitted that he divided about $52,000 among his co-travelers in an attempt to circumvent currency reporting requirements. CBP officers were informed that the passengers’ currency was the result of legal casino winnings in the Bahamas. During the secondary inspection, CBP officers determined that the passenger who won the money in the casino also failed to declare the purchase of an $8,000 watch for which duty was assessed and collected.CBP officers seized a total of $63,851 in unreported currency.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers provided this traveler multiple opportunities to accurately report all of his currency,” said Area Port Director for Nassau Preclearance Robert Allen Smith. “He ultimately admitted that he had divided his currency among his friends in an attempt to circumvent the law, and all of his currency was seized. The easiest way for travelers to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it all to a CBP officer.”

The RBPF was notified of the false declaration and responded with interest to prosecute. The circumventing passenger was arrested by RBPF upon the conclusion of CBP seizure processing. RBPF took custody of the passenger and the evidence. The remaining four individuals were released without further incident.

So that it is, Customs confiscated the cash and then turned him over to the Royal Bahamas’ Police Force for prosecution. This is all the more of a sad story because there is nothing illegal about winning some money while gambling, and nothing illegal about bringing it into the United States. It’s very likely that this man could get the money out of Customs custody, but of course, he’ll still have to deal with the criminal charges from the RBPF.

Have you had casino winnings confiscated by Customs?

If you’ve had casino winnings confiscated by Customs 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.

 

Money Seized at Detroit Airport for Bulk Cash Smuggling, Failure to report

A lady had money seized at Detroit airport by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”) and the story made national news headlines. A lot of people have money seized at Detroit airport, so I’m not sure why this story generated such interest; in fact, many money seizure clients I’ve helped would make for more interesting news stories. I suspect that this story made the news because, I bet someone (herself or her attorney) chose not to file an administrative petition for remission but went the court-route, by filing a CAFRA seized asset claim.

Here is the full AP story (quoted below) which got the story about the money seized at Detroit airport from the Detroit News. This woman has the bad luck to have her story broadcast across country, but hers is not much different than many of the airport customs money seizures that take place everyday in Detroit, Chicago, and elsewhere.

ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) — A 78-year-old Florida woman tried to fly on an international trip from Detroit Metropolitan Airport with almost $41,000 in cash hidden inside her girdle, bra and carry-on bag, federal authorities said. A complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit said the Clearwater woman was trying to board a flight April 2 to the Philippines with her daughter.

She initially said she had $200 in cash but submitted a form declaring she had $1,200, prompting questions. During a search, Customs and Border Protection officers found $8,000 in wallets in her carry-on bag, $4,000 sewn into a cloth pouch and nearly $1,000 in envelopes, according to the complaint.

Detroit Metro Airport Currency Seizure
International Arrivals at DTW

She then told them she had $3,000 in her blouse and $2,000 sewn into the strap of her bra. Officers continued to search and said they found about $21,000 in her girdle. The woman told authorities that she had recently sold her home for $120,000, wired some money to the Philippines and had planned to carry a portion of the money with her. “She stated that she did not wire the proceeds to the Philippines this time because she thought it was safer to carry the money,” according to the complaint.

Federal law requires travelers to declare if they are carrying more than $10,000. The woman hasn’t been charged, but the government in the forfeiture complaint said it wants to keep the money. The Detroit News reported details of the request Friday. Federal court records don’t list a lawyer for the woman. The Associated Press left a message Saturday seeking comment from her at a telephone listing in Florida.

The Detroit news story identifies the woman as Victoria Farren and gets into the details a bit more by explaining that a lot of the money she was carrying was sewn into various articles of clothing like her bra strap, blouse, girdle, and a cloth pouch; these facts takes her case out of the realm of a mere failure to report monetary instruments or currency exceeding $10,000 and into the category of bulk cash smuggling (that is, active efforts to conceal the money), which can make it a lot harder to get the money back.

Have your money seized at Detroit airport?

If you’ve had money seized at Detroit airport, the Ambassador Bridge, or the Detroit-Windsor-Tunnel, 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.

Detroit CBP seized cash (counterfeit money)

Any customs lawyer will tell you that it’s better to get caught failing to report real cash getting caught importing counterfeit cash. Detroit CBP seized cash (counterfeit) as a result of the currency reporting requirement. The purpose of the currency reporting requirement is to do exactly this — catch people who are bringing in illegal (in this case counterfeit) money into the United States.

You can educate yourself using our trusted “customs money seizure legal roadmap” as a guide to understanding what to do if Detroit CBP seized cash from you. In the particular case below, the the following news release clearly demonstrates why Detroit CBP does not allow anyone to under-report cash:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport announces the seizure of $32,300 in counterfeit U.S. currency from a Ghanaian citizen.

“This amount of counterfeit cash can inflict serious harm on a local economy.” says Devin Chamberlain, port director. “I am pleased that the officers’ attention to detail

Image of location near where Detroit CBP seized cash (counterfeit) at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW).
Detroit CBP seized cash (counterfeit) at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW).

resulted in this seizure.”

On Sunday November 17, CBP officers encountered a male citizen of Ghana after he arrived in Detroit on a flight from Amsterdam. Because he did not complete a required customs declaration, CBP form 6059b, he was asked to complete this form while his passport was being checked. The traveler checked “no” that he was carrying more than $10,000 however reported to the officer verbally that he indeed had more than $10,000 and made an error on the form. A secondary search of his luggage resulted in the discovery of $32,300 in U.S. currency that CBP officers suspected, was counterfeit.

Agents from the U.S. Secret Service and Homeland Security Investigations were notified and responded. The counterfeit cash and traveler were turned over to Secret Service. The United States Attorney’s Office has accepted the case for Federal prosecution.

Based on these facts, I doubt the man knew that the cash seized by Detroit CBP was counterfeit. Nevertheless, his bumbling answer and the failure to accurately report in the first place in his being arrested and pending criminal charges.

Did Detroit CBP seize cash from you?

If Detroit CBP seized cash from you at Detroit Metro Airport, the Ambassador Bridge, or the Detroit-Windsor-Tunnel, 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.