Category: forfeiture notices

Detroit CAFRA Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit

CBP Seized $20,242 at Detroit Metro Airport

Last week’s forfeiture.gov publication of legal notices of seizure and intent to forfeit revealed more unfortunate news for someone out there who had their cash seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, as recently as March 6, 2017.

Here’s why it’s unfortunate: If the money was seized on March 7, the notice of seizure was probably not sent until about March 21, which would give the interested person 30 days to respond with a petition (or 35 days to file a claim) — that puts a deadline at about April 6 for a petition, or April 11 for a claim.

The fact that notice has been published means 1) somebody got their petition denied (unlikely in 30 days unless the documentation was terrible); 2) somebody filed a claim and requested notice be published (probably a bad decision — a long and and court supervised process leading to trial); or 3) no one responded to the notice of seizure, intentionally or unintentionally (because they did not receive it).

Here’s the notice:

CAFRA Notice of seizure and intent to Forfeit Detroit It shows $20,242 was seized for a failure to report. Never, ever file a claim or a petition with CBP without first consulting with a lawyer (like me) who deals with Customs seizures first. Don’t use your immigration lawyer, and don’t use an attorney who has more experience with DOJ, FBI, or DEA cases. CBP is different, and most of the time, the cash seizure is for totally different reasons.

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.

Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

Cash seized by Detroit Airport CBP: Going, going… gone?

I’ve been a busy customs lawyer recently, but most especially the last six months. Therefore, while I’ve still been trying to get each of you many readers some new stuff for the customs law blog each week, my attention has been mostly elsewhere.
And so, I’ve finally got back to keeping an eye on the weekly forfeiture notices published U.S. Customs & Border Protection each week. There was nothing interest this week for Detroit or Chicago in terms of CAFRA seizures, but last week’s notice had some unfortunate postings:
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 28, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 28, 2017
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 27, 2017
2017380700072301-001-0000, Seized on 02/08/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 217; EA; Valued at $20,719.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31CFR1010.340(A)
2017380700078501-001-0000, Seized on 02/22/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 151; EA; Valued at $13,989.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)
I cringe when I see entries like this. What in the hell happened that two people have let almost $35,000 get published for forfeiture? Both occurred at Detroit airport in February, both contain no allegations of illegal activity aside from a failure to report or a cash structuring violation, and yet…. here it is, just about as good as gone. (The only way it would be published and not as good as gone is if someone filed seized asset claim form, as opposed to some administrative option. Generally, for most people and cases, a claim is a bad idea. Despite what other self-styled “premier forfeiture litigators” may put on their websites.)
“But wait!” you say, “the deadline to file a claim is not until June 27!” That is true, but you are ineligible to file a claim if you received a notice of seizure letter. So if you just chose to do nothing in the 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice then you can’t step in and file a claim once it has been published…. that is unless you have a Really Clever Customs Lawyer.
CBP checkpoint at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing, with vehicles in the foreground.

Detroit & Chicago Cash Forfeiture Notices

There have not been any CBP news releases recently about cash seizures conducted by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, but that does not mean CBP has stopped seizing cash. Far from it, in fact. For example, there are only a couple (if that) of cash seizure news releases from the Port of Detroit each year, yet last year they were #2 in cash seizures nationwide.

Once cash is seized by CBP, a person has several options to try to get it back (or to not get it back), most of which are on the election of proceedings form. If they aren’t successful, don’t try to get the money back, or file a claim, the publication of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit is published online for all the world to see and, if interested, to make a claim for the seized cash.

Case in point, on November 20, 2015, at the land border crossing between Detroit and Canada $14,000 cash was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for a failure to report. Because the seizure occurred last November and is only now being published, it is very likely that the administrative resolution was unsuccessful.

That usually means a bad lawyer, no lawyer, or insufficient documentation showing legitimate source and use of the seized cash.

DETROIT, MI
2016380100013401-001-0000, Seized on 11/20/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; $14000 IN USD; 140; EA; Valued at $14,000.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Now even though Detroit has more CBP cash seizures than Chicago for violating the reporting requirements, Chicago CBP seizes a lot of cash seizures for alleged criminal violations, including money laundering:

CHICAGO, IL
2016390100098701-001-0000, Seized on 08/11/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 1,344; EA; Valued at $31,000.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956, 21USC881

2016390100098901-001-0000, Seized on 08/10/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 176; EA;Valued at $4,000.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956, 21USC881

Now, I would love to know if these were seized from people traveling internationally, or just people traveling within the United States. If seized while traveling internationally, because there is no cited violation of the reporting requirement (or bulk cash smuggling or structuring laws), I would imagine either the money was truly reported but Customs suspected (or knew of…) a connection to illegal activity; or, the connection to illegal activity was so strong they chose not to allege a violation of the reporting requirements laws under Title 31.

Has Chicago or Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Chicago or Detroit 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. Our new, Chicago customs law office is located at 150 S. Wacker Drive, where we can be reached at (773) 920-1840.

Another Detroit CBP cash seizure abandoned

Earlier on July 2, CBP Detroit posted a notice of intent to forfeit $20,728 that was seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (port code 3807) on June 20, 2016, for a simple failure to report more than $10,000 being brought into the country or out of the country, as required by currency reporting laws.

The fact that publication has already begun for this recent seizure is probably unfortunate. It means that someone has chosen to abandon their money or has never received a personal notice of seizure letter from CBP. After the seizure notice letter is mailed, CBP can begin administrative forfeiture proceedings after 35 days have passed.

Someone with an interest in the property can file a claim based on the publication of the notice of intent to forfeit; however, if the person received a personal notice of seizure letter, legally speaking, the deadline for filing a claim will have already passed. Don’t let that fact discourage you from contacting our office, because sometimes there are ways around this bar to filing a claim.

Here’s the notice:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: July 02, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: August 01, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: August 31, 2016

DETROIT, MI

2016380700088501-001-0000, Seized on 06/20/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED;220; EA; Valued at $20,728.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

I’ve seen some lawyers out there say never to bother filing an administrative petition cash seized by a federal agency; to always file a claim.

We have always had tremendous success in negotiating return of the money through the filing of administrative petitions for our clients who have had their money seized by CBP, especially in Detroit. So do not be fooled my lawyers who try to pressure you into filing a claim so they can charge you higher legal fees by filing a claim.

If you got currency seized by CBP 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 Cash Seizure Chicago O’Hare Airport

On April 12, 2016, some poor soul in Chicago had over $16,000 currency seized at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. For what, you ask? Well, judging from the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit published Friday last, some violation of Title 31 of the United States Code.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: June 24, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: July 23, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: August 23, 2016

2016390100067501-002-0000, Seized on 04/12/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 768; EA; Valued at $16,210.00; For violation of 31USC

As can be seen, the notice published on the forfeiture.gov contains, what I assume, is a clerical error. Typically, these notices will contain a host of laws violated. 31 USC is not a law, but rather, an entire book of laws that outlines the role of money and finance in the United States. It is most likely that the money was seized for purported violations of the usual suspects; 31 USC 5316, 31 USC 5324 and/or 31 USC 5332.

My sources tell me that O’Hare International Airport recently began permitting on-site mitigation of cash seizures valued at less than $25,000, to ease the processing burden on the folks who handle the petitions filed with FP&F Chicago. Customs policy permits individual ports to choose to offer on-site mitigation when the persons are transporting less than $25,000 and they mis-report an amount that is 5% or less in variance with the actual amount being transported.

If on-site mitigation was an option, the likely explanation for the seizure still occurring is a misreport of 5% or more in the amount that was being carried by the traveler. Over the years, we’ve helped a lot of people who have their cash seized by CBP at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Do not let your cash seizure case in Chicago get to the point that CBP publishes a forfeiture notice.

Did CBP seize cash from you at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport?

If you have had currency seized from Chicago CBP, please contact us in Chicago at (773) 920-1840. Our customs lawyer in Chicago’s office is a short walk from U.S. Customs & Border Protection Chicago’s Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures office.

A copy of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit featuring the case of the incomplete check seized by CBP

Incomplete Checks Seized by CBP in Detroit

On May 10, someone at the land border between Detroit and Canada attempted to bring into or leave the country with a check for $50,000 that was blank – in that it did not have a payee — in other words, the payee in the “pay to the order of” section of the check was blank. That’s what you call an “incomplete instrument” in legal-speak, or we’ll call it an incomplete check for our purposes.

Incomplete checks fall under the general monetary instrument reporting requirements that Customs enforces at all ports of entry through the United States. In fact, incomplete checks are specifically identified as being part of the monetary instruments that must be reported to customs, apart from cash. 31 CFR 1010.100(dd)(iv) states the monetary instruments include ….”incomplete instruments (including personal checks, business checks, official bank checks, cashier’s checks, third-party checks, promissory notes (as that term is defined in the Uniform Commercial Code), and money orders) signed but with the payee’s name omitted“.

So Last Friday, U.S. Customs & Border Protection at the Port of Detroit noticed its seizure and intention to forfeit a check (a/k/a a negotiable instrument) valued at $50,000. The notice is as follows:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: June 24, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: July 23, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: August 23, 2016

2016380100064801-001-0000, Seized on 05/10/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; CHECK (SIGNED WITHOUT PAYEE); 1; EA; Valued at $50,000.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

I bet this person thought they could get around the reporting requirement by not completing the payee on the check, just like the many people who think they can get around the reporting requirement by dividing the money through structuring.

They might also be under the mistaken impression that they will cancel the check, and CBP will not be able to keep the $50,000. But that is not what happens when CBP seizes a check; after seizure, CBP can “freeze” those funds in the bank account, or by otherwise getting access to the money, and by getting cooperation from the bank itself. Be warned.

Have you had a check seized by CBP?

If you have had a check seized by CBP 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.

June 10th notice of seizure and intent to forfeit for a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport

Money Seizure at Detroit Metro Airport in 6/10 Notice

In March 2015, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (Customs) seized $8,188 USD and $4,901.52 of Taiwanese New Dollar cash from a traveler at the Detroit Metro Airport. The seizure was for a simple failure to report cash to Customs (recall here that there is no limit on traveling into or out of the country with more than $10,000, but the money must be properly reported to CBP to avoid seizure).

Just this June 10th, CBP in Detroit published a notice of seizure and intent to forfeit the cash (valued at $13,098.62) for that same violation of law; presumably, the reason for the delay between the seizure over 15 months ago and the publication of the forfeiture notice is that either no one could prove the money was from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use, the person tried to do it themselves without a lawyer (and messed up), or had a lawyer who knew nothing about the process for getting back cash seized by Customs.

To anyone who considers getting back seized money without a lawyer, be forewarned: the process is complex and we have seen many attorneys lose cases that our firm could have won because they don’t know what they are doing. Just this past week, we’ve been undoing the mess of an immigration lawyer who (in my opinion) is about to be responsible for permanently losing around $12,000 for his clients who had a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport last year.

This person might be in the same predicament; bad advice, or no advice. And as a consequence, good-bye money! Perhaps they’ll get smart and give us a call before they don’t even stand a chance of getting back a penny.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: June 10, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: July 09, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: August 09, 2016

DETROIT, MI

2015380700055701-001-0000, Seized on 03/04/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED;
118; EA; Valued at $8,188.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316
2015380700055701-002-0000, Seized on 03/04/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; TAIWAN CURRENCY
RETAINED; 480; EA; Valued at $4,910.62; For violation of 21USC5317,31USC5316

Have you had a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport?

If you experienced a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport 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.

Loss of Cash to Texas CBP via Notice of Forfeiture & Intent to Seize

Losing cash to Texas CBP

In the context of negotiation to get some of my client’s seized cash returned from CBP, I once had a conversation with a Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures officer. I remarked that I couldn’t believe how much money people lost to CBP through cash seizures. Without hesitation, he replied “I can’t believe how much money people don’t try to get back from CBP.”

So in consideration of people about to lose some cash to CBP, let’s have a look at some money seizures by CBP in Texas that are on the verge of being forfeited (that is, lost forever to the government). All of this information is courtesy of www.forfeiture.gov, and spans cash seizure notices of seizure and intent to forefeit for April 22 and April 29.

First up, Houston:

HOUSTON, TX
2016530100037301-001-0000, Seized on 04/14/2016; At the port of HOUSTON, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 1; EA;
Valued at $333,485.00; For violation of 31USC5317/5316

A whopping $333,485 was seized in Houston, Texas, for a simply failing to report it. Houston is one of the ports where I’ve heard that Customs can be pretty fair in giving people plenty of opportunity to make the cash report. Next up, Presidio/El Paso, Texas:

EL PASO, TX
2016240300008401-001-0000, Seized on 02/17/2016; At the port of PRESIDIO, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 4,907; EA; Valued at $138,209.00; For violation of 31USC5332(A),31USC5332(C),31USC5316,31USC5317

This is more than just a failure to report — the reference to 31 USC 5332 means that it is also seized for bulk cash smuggling, which likewise means that a greater amount of money is subject to forfeiture by CBP. In addition, because just below this entry and bearing the same case number is a 2004 Ford F150 truck, we can safely assume that this $138,209 was concealed within the the truck.

The last entry, for Laredo, Texas, is more puzzling:

LAREDO, TX
2016231000003901-001-0000, Seized on 04/02/2016; At the port of ROMA, $3,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316,31USC5324

The cash reporting requirement only applies to amounts of money being transported in excess of $10,000, but this entry indicates that $3,200 was seized for both a failure to report and a structuring violation. But you can’t violate the cash reporting law by transporting less than $10,000. So how is it that CBP is forfeiting $3,200?

Well, it’s possible it was some small part of a structuring transaction; but in that case, I would expect to see another entry with the same case number of seizure date the brings the amount to over $10,000. It’s also possible that the person only transported $3,200 because they did not want to have to report traveling with more than $10,000. More likely (in terms of a structuring violation), would be that there was a sequence of transactions of moving money across the border and, when they were all added up and CBP got wind of the structuring plot, they seized this last bit of $3,200. If you don’t understand that, you haven’t read our article on cash structuring to avoid the reporting requirement.

Have you lost cash to CBP through a money seizure?

A loss of cash to CBP through seizure is a traumatic experience. If the money has not already been forfeited, there are some good chances to get it back if you know what you’re doing. Our customs law firms knows what it’s doing. 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.

An April 22 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Boston Logan airport.

$14k Cash Seized at Boston Logan Airport

Back in September of 2015, $14,080 in cash was seized at Boston Logan Airport (BOS – port code 0417) by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. Seven months later, the seized cash is still languishing in the bank accounts of Customs because the interested people apparently failed to convince customs the money came from a legitimate source or had a legitimate intended use. That is why it is Boston CBP published a notice of seizure and intent to forfeit, to start and finalize the administrative forfeiture process (which does not involve a judge, unless a claim is filed requesting judicial forfeiture).
We have a great history of success in getting seized cash back from Customs and have successfully represented clients with a cash seizure at Boston Logan Airport. Don’t be foolish and try to get money back yourself, or hire an inexperienced lawyer to do it for you — you will get a bad result. A petition must not be an apology letter! This is why we recommend hiring a customs lawyer to get seized cash back from Customs.
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 22, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 21, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 21, 201

BOSTON, MA
2015041700014401-001-0000, Seized on 09/25/2015; At the port of LOGAN AIRPORT, CT; U.S. CURRENCY; 153;EA; Valued at $14,080.00; For violation of 31USC5316

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. As we try to make clear on the free currency seizure materials on our website, the process is very complicated and CBP can be extremely adversarial and stubborn in their refusal to return your money to you after a seizure. There is reason for great caution whenever you are communicating with Customs after a seizure.
An April 22, 2016 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash by CBP Detroit.

Forfeiture Pending for $15,000 Seized at DTW

Here is today’s excerpt from Detroit CBP’s posting on forfeiture.gov — $15,000 seized for failure to failure to report at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW – port code 3807).
The fact that $15,000 was seized by CBP in August 2015, and only 8 months later is the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit being published, tells me that someone tried unsuccessfully to get the money back by making an offer in compromise or an administrative petition. This is why we recommend hiring a customs lawyer to get seized cash back from Customs.
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 22, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 21, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 21, 2016

2015380700127501-001-0000, Seized on 08/16/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 150; EA; Valued at $15,000.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316

Once a seizure case goes this far without a resolution administratively, a good outcome for a case such as this is getting any amount of money back, especially when the amount seized is only $15,000.

Has your petition or officer in compromise been denied by CBP in Detroit?

If your petition or offer in compromise has been denied by CBP in Detroit, 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.