Recently, at Washington’s Dulles Airport, CBP seized over $60,000 that was mis-reported to Customs by a Gambian national and concealed in his baggage:
On Saturday, CBP officers and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) discovered $64,770 in U.S. dollars that the Gambian man had concealed throughout his possessions. The man initially reported to two CBP officers separately that he did not possess more than $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency. After CBP explained the currency reporting requirements, the man then reported that he possessed no more than $14,000. After an initial baggage examination revealed $44,750, the man completed a U.S. Treasury currency reporting form reporting $44,750. A subsequent examination of a carry case revealed an additional $20,000. CBP seized $61,770, released $3,000 to the man for humanitarian purposes, and then released him.
So, our Gambian friend in this story has made several mistakes. First, he no doubt put on his traveler’s declaration form that he was not in possession of more than $10,000. Second, when orally asked by CBP to confirm or deny that fact, he denied it, which was apparently false. Third, when he finally decided to declare possession of more than $10,000, he only declared $14,000, despite having an additional $50,000 with him. Fourth, CBP could probably charge him for bulk cash smuggling because the money was apparently concealed from the view of CBP within his baggage.
Basically, any one of these constitutes a failure to report; however, in my experience (despite some occasional abuses) Customs does give traveler’s an opportunity to amend their currency report and properly declare their money. The law is clear, though, all of the currency or monetary instruments is subject to seizure, even the amount that was reported. So in this case, even though $14,000 was eventually reported, the entirety of the money gets seized — not just the amount over and above the $14,000. This mistaken belief sometimes gets people into trouble.
If you have had currency seized and are wondering how to proceed, please make use of the other information we make available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.