Category: Petition for Remission

Understanding CBP’s Election of Proceedings Form

What is an election of proceedings form?

Upon receipt of a notice of seizure for unreported currency by Customs, you will see that CBP asks you to complete an “election of proceedings form.” This article is intended to help you understand what the form is and what can be done with it. As always, you should consult with a lawyer before communicating with Customs and deciding how to handle your seizure case.

What’s the purpose of an election of proceedings form?

The CAFRA Election of Proceedings Form.
The CAFRA Election of Proceedings Form tells Customs how you want to proceed with your currency seizure case

This election of proceeding form does exactly that: it tells Customs how you want to proceed with your currency seizure case (or other property seizure case, for that matter, but we here are limiting this to CBP currency seizure cases) under various different laws and procedural options. This form presents you with a variety of options, all of which are explained in some legal detail on the form itself:

  • Petition Administratively
  • Officer in Compromise
  • Abandon Any Claim or Interest
  • File a Claim for Court Action

You should only choose what option is best for your case after consulting with a lawyer; often a petition makes sense, but there are many times when a claim or offer in compromise is strategically the best decision to get your seized cash back from customs.

What box should I check on the form, and should I file a claim?

You should not blindly sign and returning documents to Customs without completely understanding what you are doing. As CBP’s notice of seizure says, you can only elect/choose one option. Prior to contacting our office for a consultation, you may find our article about responding to a currency seizure an aid to your understanding of the currency seizure process.

I often see client’s mistakenly send in both an election of proceedings form that says they want to file a petition and a CAFRA Claim Form. These are clients who have started the process by themselves and quickly get frustrated and lost in procedural details, who finally seek our help to get their seized cash back from customs.

You cannot sign the election of proceedings form requested that CBP consider a petition, and then also simultaneously file a “CAFRA Seized Asset and Claim Form”. The two exclude each other; you cannot do both at the same time. You must either file a petition, file a claim, make an offer in compromise, or abandon your interest.

What does each option do?

Again, the election of proceedings form goes into a good amount of legal detail that we won’t repeat here. But basically:

  1. Filing a petition keeps the proceeding with Customs, to be decided by the port’s Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures Officer;
  2. Filing the CAFRA Seized Asset Claim Form removes the decision from Customs FP&F and puts the case in front of a federal judge;
  3. Abandoning your interest does just that, relinquishes your interest in the property; and,
  4. Making an offer in compromise essentially is an avenue for someone to make a settlement offer to the government to settle a “questionable” (i.e., implausible) claim or controversy, and the offer in compromise laws must be strictly complied with.

There are often very good reasons for filing a claim. But, when filing a claim, you should understand that submitting the CAFRA Seized Asset Claim Form will take the decision before a Federal district court judge. That means you will have to appear at a Federal district court on several occasions, exchange written discovery, take and have your deposition taken (that is, sworn testimony under oath and recorded), likely make and respond to several pre-trial motions (such as motion for summary judgment or motion to dismiss), and ultimately,¬† have your “day in court” with a real judge and real government prosecutor’s cross-examining you about the circumstances of the seizure and your finances.

As stated, the analysis of “what box to check” should not be undertaken with consulting with an attorney who knows the customs laws. This article is not a substitute for the legal advice you would receive from a law firm like us, so do not rely on it.

I’m confused about what to do. Now what?

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

Baltimore CBP Seizes Almost $28K in Unreported Currency from Maryland Man

CBP seized almost $30,000 in cash from a traveler at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport last week when he was leaving the United States to the United Kingdom. Many people are not aware the the currency reporting requirement for more than $10,000 applies to when you enter or LEAVE the country. He verbally reported $8,000, wrote down $5,000, then said the money belonged to others but nothing more than $8,000 in total was being transported.

What? If true, no wonder the officers became suspicious. When a story changes 3 times in less than a minute, there is good cause to believe someone is lying. If not true, well… that wouldn’t be the first I saw CBP relate their own version of events that differed vastly from what clients have described to me.

The salient portion of the story is quoted below (full story is here):

Picture of $27,773 seized from luggage.
CBP officers found a total of $27,773 on his person and in his luggage.

The man, who was boarding a flight to the United Kingdom, was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound international flight enforcement operation. The man initially reported possessing $8,000 but completed a financial reporting form stating $5,000. After signing the form he stated he was also carrying currency for others, but that all the currency totaled less than $8,000. CBP officers found a total of $27,773 on his person and in his luggage. CBP officers seized the $27,773 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

Tuition Money Seized by Customs

Customs seizure of tuition money is a common occurrence in the weeks prior to the start of either semester of the school year. Like all customs currency seizures, the seizure typically happens because of a failure to file a currency report by people transporting money into the United States of amounts over $10,000.

Lots of foreign students come to the United States and pay their tuition in cash as most colleges won’t accept tuition payments by credit card. Likewise, many foreign exchange students and¬†children of immigrants get a lot of cash assistance from family overseas who understand¬†their duty to pay for their children’s education; it may be a lump $15,000 sum from a parent or grandparent, or a few hundred or thousand dollars from several different relatives or benefactors.

Customs can easily identify someone on student visa, who is relatively young, and is arriving from China, India or Korea; we previously wrote about how customs can “target” currency reporting enforcement based on just these types of criteria. This makes it very easy for them to target students who will then be required to give an accurate report of currency down to the dollar, and if they don’t to seize their cash. The only thing higher than the cost of education is the cost of not accurately reporting money over $10,000 to customs.

What to do when Customs seizes your tuition money?

Traveling with cash? Claim monetary instruments exceeding $10,000 USD!
Don’t let customs seize cash. Traveling with cash? Claim monetary instruments exceeding $10,000 USD!

Take the advice we have already given for responding to a customs money seizure by reading our popular article on the topic: Responding to a Customs Currency Seizure. Currency seizure cases are handled the same whether the money that was seized by customs was intended to be used to pay for college tuition or, for example, for travel expenses. As long as the use of the money is legitimate (and tuition is a legitimate use) and the source of the money is legitimate, with the right legal help you have a good chance of getting your seized tuition money back. If you want to know what a petition to get seized money back from customs looks like, read our article here.

Will I get the money in time to pay my tuition?

It really depends on a variety of circumstances, as we talked about in our popular article on the topic: How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure? In every case, hiring the right attorney to handle your case can speed up the process, from getting the notice of seizure issued, to gathering evidence (obtaining supporting documents, preparing affidavits and giving customs everything they need without waiting for them to request additional documents), researching and drafting the legal basis for the obtaining a return of the seized currency in the petition, and ultimately, if successful, getting the money returned without delay, often by direct deposit. We work hard at Great Lakes Customs Law to get your seized currency returned back to you in a timely manner by doing the job right the first time.

How can I find out more or hire a law firm to help with my customs currency seizure?

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?

Information on currency and monetary instrument seizure by Customs

CBP took cash over $10,000? Read here to help you along the way.
Money seized by customs? CBP took cash over $10,000? Read here to help you along the way.

We get many calls from people across the country who, either having just crossed a land border or cleared Customs at an airport, have money or its equivalent seized by U.S. Customs and
Border Protection for failure to report amounts over $10,000, or for stating an inaccurate amount being transported. In this series of blog posts, I will answering some of the most frequently asked questions about currency seizures, reporting requirements, and the process we use for getting your seized money back from Customs.

Did you have your money seized by Customs?

This experience with Customs is usually a traumatic one for most people, not only because a big chunk of your savings is suddenly gone, but also because Customs often detains a suspect for hours while separating you from your traveling companions and interrogating each of you about the source and purpose of the money. They will make you feel like the worst of criminals.

“Why does Customs seize the money if I’ve done nothing wrong?”

In most cases, Customs usually seizes money because of a violation of the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act (although certain situations might give rise to allegations of failure to declare or some type of¬†smuggling, such as bulk cash smuggling). Specifically, 31 USC ¬†¬ß 5316 and 5317, a part of the Federal law, as well as Federal Regulations, give Customs the authority to seize your cash, currency, or things like checks, promissory notes, traveler’s checks, money orders, and certain securities and stocks if you fail to report or misreport amounts in excess of $10,000. The law requires that this report be made so they can more easily detect money laundering and other financial crimes.

Why most people have their money seized

People fail to report, or misreport currency and monetary instruments for a variety of reasons. It can be mistrust of government agents (usually foreign born people who grew up under very corrupt governments), lack of knowledge of the presence of money, not knowing exactly how much cash you have, a language barrier, confusion about whether non U.S. currency must be reported, how the law applies to more than one person, or good old-fashioned panic.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

 

CBP Confiscates $27K in Cash Dulles Airport

U.S. customs officers Dulles Airport recently more than $25,000 from the traveler attempting to leave the country to visit France. This is the third in a series of recently reported airport currency seizures by customs at this airport. A key difference between this and the most recent story is that the traveler did not report anything over $10,000, but only reported $6,000. 

You can read the full story here. The details are below:

A man was boarding a flight to France and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound international flight enforcement operation. The man reported possessing $6,000 and completed a financial reporting form stating that amount, however; a total of $27,237 was discovered on his person and in his luggage. CBP officers seized the $27,237, returning $500 to the traveler for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

This is CBP’s second currency seizure in two days at Washington Dulles. On Monday, CBP officers seized $45,912.02 from a family departing to Austria for also failing to truthfully report all currency in their possession.

‚ÄúTravelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,‚ÄĚ said Patrick Orender, CBP Assistant Port Director for the Port of Washington Dulles. ‚ÄúThe travelers were given the opportunity to truthfully report their currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.‚ÄĚ

I know it is sometimes true that truthfully reporting money is the easiest way to keep it, but I am also sure that it is not always true. I know many clients had opportunities to report transporting more than $10,000 in money but there are who are subjected to “zealous enforcement” and asked trick questions without sufficient opportunity to make, or amend, a report. Sometimes the philosophy of some Customs officers is to “seize first, ask questions later.”

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

CBP Seizes $50k at Dulles Airport en route to Qatar

U.S. Customs seized nearly $50,000 at Dulles airport from two travellers attempting to leave the country for a failure to report. Both seizures involve people flying to Qatar and significantly under-reporting the amount of currency they possessed. You can read the full story HERE:

The first seizure occurred on July 17, during an outbound international flight enforcement operation. A U.S. citizen boarding a flight to Qatar reported to CBP officers that he possessed $5,000 and completed a financial reporting form stating that amount however; a total of $23,141 was discovered on his person and in his luggage. CBP officers seized the $23,141, returning $541 to the traveler for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

The second seizure occurred on July 19, during another outbound enforcement operation. A U.S. citizen boarding a flight to Qatar Customs Seizes $39k from Nicaraguan Travelerreported to CBP officers that she possessed $6,000 and completed a financial reporting form stating that amount however; numerous envelopes of U.S. and foreign currency were discovered in her carry-on luggage totaling $26,179 (U.S. equivalent). CBP officers seized the $26,179, returning $2,247 to the traveler for humanitarian relief, and advised her how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

‚ÄúTravelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,‚ÄĚ said Wayne Biondi, CBP area port director for the Port of Washington Dulles. ‚ÄúThe travelers were given the opportunity to truthfully report their currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.‚ÄĚ

I know it is sometimes true that truthfully reporting money is the easiest way to keep it, but I am also sure that it¬†is not always true. I know many clients had ¬†opportunities to report transporting more than $10,000 in money but there are who are¬†subjected to “zealous enforcement” and asked trick questions without sufficient opportunity to make, or amend, a report. ¬†Sometimes the philosophy of some Customs officers is to “seize first, ask questions later.”

My clients usually report intimidating behavior while they are being detained, like back-slapping, laughter, high-fiving among officers about their seizure prowess, and sometimes unfounded threats of criminal prosecution.

It is also true, as this news release says, that the easiest way to keep your currency is to report it; but Customs can still theoretically seize your money if you have under $10,000 and they think you are “structuring” to avoid to have to file a report, the money was concealed, or if you report over $10,000 but lack good documentation about the source and use of the funds, or if they believe it has some connection to criminal activity.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

 

Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

When¬†Customs or Homeland Security wants to discuss your Customs currency seizure case with you after filing a petition, by telephone or in person, including the contents of your petition, the sources of the money, or intended uses of the money… DECLINE.¬†The scenario:

You foolishly decided to¬†file your petition for remission of forfeiture for your seized¬†currency without hiring a lawyer because you didn’t read our¬†article about currency seizures. A few weeks has passed and you haven’t heard anything. On a quiet day you get a call from a blocked phone number, out of curiousity you answer it. The caller says:

“This is Special Agent Johnny Customs from Homeland Security Investiations. Is this the person who¬†filed a petition for seizure of currency in Case Number 2015-3807-0000005-01?”

“Yes,” you answer, shocked.

“I’d like to ask you some questions about your petition.”

Upon hearing it, you panic. Hopefully you don’t say anything stupid or that can be interpreted as suspicious.¬†This is a very real situation and a common occurrence.

Politely decline to speak with them. Then keep calm, and immediately contact your Customs Attorney.

The reason is as old as the hills: never¬†talk to law enforcement. It can only go badly for you. Even though Customs is not your local police officer or the FBI, U.S. Customs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and¬†Homeland Security Investigations agents and officers are all the same; they are police. The sameCustoms Money Seizure goes for a paralegal specialist. If you don’t believe us then watch this YouTube video called “Don’t Talk to Police“. You might be really motivated to talk because you want your money back. But the guy who wants to interview you really does not want to give it back. The system is adversarial and any interview will be designed to work against you.

The request for an interview has happened when our law firm has¬†filed petitions for returned of seized currency and the¬†petition is referred to Homeland Security Investigations¬†for further investigation or “technical review” (a topic we briefly discussed in our article about the length of time it takes Customs to decide a petition). I consider these interview requests a scare tactic to convince the petitioner to abandon the seized currency. I have had a homeland security agent try to bully me into producing my client for an interview and threaten that if my client did not abandon the currency, they would conduct a full-scale financial investigation, and involve the Homeland Security attache’s office in the country where the money came from.¬†No one wants to believe that about their government or their country but there is no other way to interpret it other than bullying.

A good petition to retrieve seized currency gives Customs everything necessary in writing. Consequently, there is ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON to participate in a telephone or sit-down, face-to-face interview, and talk about where the money came from, what was its intended use, or the events that led to the seizure (like the failure to report). The interview is designed to make you uncomfortable, intimidate you, uncover incriminating facts, or give Customs enough information deny your petition to get the money back.

If you have been contacted by Homeland Security Investigations and they have asked to interview you, please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case
  14. Understanding CBP’s Election of Proceedings Form

Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP

If you are attempting to get your seized currency back from Customs by filing a petition for remission there are several legal requirements written into the Customs laws and¬†regulations. Some do-it-yourselfers¬†come to our customs law firm’s website looking for a sample currency seizure petition they can use to submit to Customs. Customs publishes its own set of forms for use in a wide variety of different customs enforcement/forfeiture contexts; for petitions there is a form called Petition for Remission or Mitigation of Forfeitures and Penalties Incurred (Customs Form 4609 (click to access)).¬† The form is extremely basic and we do not recommended it for use in the context of a customs money¬†seizure. It can be used as a starting point, though, because any petition must have at least the information from that form.

But any good petition for seized currency should have a lot more information to be effective. When we file a petition on behalf of our currency seizure clients they are at least 10 Petition for Remission of Currency Seizurepages long because petitioning for the return of seized currency is a serious legal issue (read more about it here). Many people think it’s easy and sometimes Customs will lead you to believe it is. But why would you believe the people who just took your money? Here’s some of the questions that you should ask yourself before doing it yourself. Any lawyer you hire to help get your seized currency back should be able to answer these questions.

15 Questions to Ask Before Filing a Petition for Remission of Seized Currency with U.S. Customs:

  1. Was the search of your baggage or person constitutional?
  2. Was the currency seizure constitutional?
  3. Who has the burden of proof?
  4. What is the standard of proof that must be met by the party with the burden of proof?
  5. Does the currency seizure constitute an excessive fine in violation of the constitution?
  6. How do the federal courts in your state/circuit interpret the currency reporting requirement?
  7. Did you violate the currency reporting requirement?
  8. Are you admitting you violated the law? Are you saying too much? Are you not saying enough?
  9. Are you admitting other violations of laws you are unaware of? (unlawful currency structuring, bulk cash smuggling, conspiracy, FCPA violations (bribes), or false statement to law enforcement, among others)
  10. Did you bring the money from a country under economic sanctions, like Iran? If so, did you violate those sanctions or are you unintentionally admitting you violated those sanctions?
  11. Were there any recognized mitigating factors or aggravating factors?
  12. Are there mitigating factors that Customs has authority to recognize even though not in a written policy?
  13. Did you make an oral amendment of your declaration the Customs did not honor?
  14. Are documents properly notarized?
  15. Are documents properly translated?

If your money was seized by CBP/customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page (see our case results here). Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles about money seizures by customs:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case
  14. Understanding CBP’s Election of Proceedings Form

Customs Seizure & Penalty for Counterfeits and Uncertified Engines

Importing is a tricky business that presents a trap for the novice. You may think you can import merchandise that can be used to make a few quick dollars on because of a high profit margin. The story below falls into that category.

This person attempted to import 300 Wii controllers, 400 USB convertors, and 200 small motorcycle engines. If successful, there was some money to be made. But the problem was the Wii controllers and USB converters were counterfeit, and the 200 small motorcycle engines lacked an important EPA certification.

The consequences? Customs seized the counterfeits and the small motorcycle engines are an importation contrary to law because of the failure to have certification by the EPA.

PORTAL, N.D. ‚ÄĒ U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers recently targeted a rail container at the port of Portal, North Dakota. In February 2014, CBP officers inspected the rail container and discovered merchandise that violated multiple laws and regulations. The merchandise consisted of approximately 300 counterfeit Wii remote controllers, 400 counterfeit USB converters and 200 small motorcycle engines that were not certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

CBP determined that the trademark was counterfeit on the Wii remote controllers and USB converters. As a result, CBP seized those items. The counterfeit merchandise had a Keep Calm and Contact Your Customs Attorneymanufacturer’s suggested retail price of $20,800. In addition, CBP seized the small engines that were found not to be certified, as required by the EPA. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the engines was $16,400.

‚ÄúCBP continues to play a key role in Intellectual Property Rights enforcement,‚ÄĚ said Brent Beeter, the Port Director in Portal. ‚ÄúCBP continues to stay focused on combating the illegitimate trade in counterfeit products.”

Stopping the flow of illicit goods is a Priority Trade Issue for CBP. The importation of counterfeit merchandise can damage the U.S. economy, and threaten the health and safety of the American people.

With the growth of foreign trade, unscrupulous companies have profited billions of dollars from the sale of counterfeit and pirated goods. To combat the illicit trade of merchandise violating laws relating to intellectual property rights (IPR), trademark and copyright holders may register with CBP through an online system. Such registration assists CBP officers and import specialists in identifying violative merchandise.

CBP‚Äôs IPR enforcement strategy is multi-layered and includes seizing violative merchandise at our borders, pushing the border ‚Äúoutward‚ÄĚ through audits of suspect importers, cooperating with our international trading partners, and collaborating with industry and governmental agencies to enhance these efforts.

Many fail to grasp the importance of customs seizing counterfeit or uncertified merchandise. The reason might be a failure see the harm that it causes to the owner of the trademark, by confusing their purchasers and destroying a reputation for quality, or just not caring about the consequences in quest for making themselves some money. To those and others, I say: Consult a customs attorney who is well acquainted with the laws enforced by the customs service and who can judge the legality of the transaction, even getting advice from customs in advance.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit trademarked merchandise or for importations contrary to law. We can help. You can pay the penalty or, as we recommend, file a petition for mitigation to ask for a reduction in the penalty. Once the notice of penalty is sent, the recipient has either 30 days to pay the penalty or file a detailed petition arguing the legal bases for further mitigation (reduction) or cancellation of the penalty. We recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).

If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

 

 

Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizure

How does customs target people for money seizures?

There are certain groups of people who are more likely to be transporting large amounts of money through airport customs.¬†For example, people who come from largely cash based economies and people who for cultural reasons, do not trust banks or prefer to pay with and keep cash on hand.¬†Walking around with more than $10,000 in cash is hard for a lot of Americans to understand because credit is easy and¬†we are notoriously bad savers.¬†I suspect many American’s would not think twice about having a $10,000 balance on their credit card, but those same people would be shocked to hear about someone walking around with $10,000 in cash.

Another example of people who are more likely to be transporting large amounts of money through customs are those travelling to the U.S. for an extended vacation or are staying for a long time to attend a university, work an internship, or immigrate from China, Korea, Iran or Indonesia, for example, and make a permanent residence in the United States . They might be carrying money with them to pay for tuition (which usually cannot be paid by credit card), books, expenses related to renting an apartment, buying car, purchasing health insurance, etc.

Why does customs target certain groups for money seizures?

From the perspective of customs, targeted enforcement of the more than $10,000 currency reporting requirement makes sense and any diligent customs officer who wants to make sure the currency reporting laws are enforced is going to target certain people de-planing from flights from certain countries or parts of the world.

Extended vacationers are easy to target by customs. Customs may review your itinerary (e.g., one way or return flight) and ask about the purpose of your visit to the United States. So when a customs officer asks, “How long are you staying in the United States?” and the response is, “A month,” one of the next few questions likely to be asked is going be, “And so how much money are you travelling with?” If you look nervous, or if they just do not believe you, there are likely going to search you and your luggage in a secondary inspection to verify whatever you tell them about how much money you are transporting.

What’s an example of a group targeted by customs for currency reporting purposes?

The Chinese New Year is coming up (1/31 to 2/6) and traditionally, Chinese people visit relatives and give cash gifts in red envelopes, called hongbao, during this holiday. You can read more about

Red Envelope (hongbao) Customs Money Seizure
Cash Filled Hongbao – Red Envelopes

this interesting cultural practice at Wikipedia.¬†Chinese people living in the United States also celebrate the Chinese New Year.¬†Chinese nationals travel to the United States to visit their family living here and bring with them hongbao red envelopes stuffed with cash from relatives back in China. It might be in certain “lucky” denominations, it might be for a wedding, a new baby, or just to help a young family out.

As a result, Customs might target flights from China for enhanced enforcement of the currency reporting requirement near and during the Chinese New Year and seize money for failure to report, bulk cash smuggling, or structuring violations (multiple red envelopes being transported on behalf of multiple relatives). Chinese nationals coming to the United States during the Chinese New year celebrations are probably going to be targeted by customs to make sure that they are reporting any amount over $10,000 in currency they are transporting into the United States, or if they fail to report, customs will seize their money and tell them to file a petition to get it back.

Customs seized my money! What do I do now?

If you have had money seized by customs please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?