Category: Structuring

U.S. Customs Confiscates $50k in Cash at Texas Airports

Customs officers confiscated a total of nearly $50,000 from international travelers at Texas airports in the last few weeks alone. Specifically, the cash seizure by customs was at San Antonio International Airport and at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The first story involves $16,000 of currency that sounds like it was structured by an adult father and daughter traveling together in order to evade the reporting requirement. The story finishes by stating that in the last fiscal year (ending October 31), CBP seized more than $81,496,161 ($81.5 million!) in undeclared or illicit currency.

San Antonio Airport picture of $16,000 in unreported currency.
San Antonio International Airport discovered a pair of travelers carrying over $16,000 in unreported currency.

On Nov. 3, CBP officers working at the San Antonio International Airport discovered a pair of travelers carrying over $16,000 in unreported currency.  The travelers, who are citizens of Mexico and traveling together, arrived separately to CBP for processing and each reported they were traveling alone.  

Both who claimed to be traveling alone and reported carrying less than $10,000. However when question furthered, the travelers, a father, 53 and his daughter 27 admitted that they were in fact traveling together.  The amount of currency discovered among their belongings added up to $16,000.   The currency was seized for failure to properly report currency in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000.

The second story involves a single traveler leaving for Argentina who reported only having $9,000, but really had more than $33,000 (tsk tsk). In addition, the money was not in a single location but was in “several envelopes stashed among his belongings.” The fact that it was stashed may give rise to bulk cash smuggling as a second ground for seizure beyond the failure to report.

Three days later at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport CBP officers seized currency from a traveler who was departing the United States head to Argentina.  The passenger reported $9,000 in his possession, however when CBP officers completed the currency verification, more than $33,400 was discovered.  The cash was found in several envelopes stashed among his belongings. CBP seized the currency.

Cash that was discovered in several envelopes stashed among belongings.
The cash was found in several envelopes stashed among his belongings. CBP seized the currency.

International travelers with negotiable monetary instruments valued at $10,000 or greater in their possession must complete a form FinCEN 105, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments according to U.S. law.  Negotiable monetary instruments include currency, personal checks that have been endorsed, travelers’ checks, gold coins, securities or stocks in bearer form.

2015 Hajj pilgrims: Declare your money!

Customs at the port of Dertroit is offering a pointed reminder to Hajj pilgrims returning to the United States; declare everything you acquired overseas, especially food and agricultural items, but most importantly declare your cash over $10,000! The Hajj ends on September 26, and pilgrims returning through Detroit Metropolitan Airport with more than $10,000 could have all their currency seized if it totals more than $10,000.

If you travel with $10,000, be sure to declare money.
If you travel with $10,000, be sure to declare money to customs.

Be extra careful and if it’s cash and it belongs to other people you are traveling with, declare it anyway and explain the situation to Customs before you get caught up in intensive questioning. Talk to those you are traveling with to see how much cash they are carrying so that you don’t failure to make a report out of ignorance, and so customs cannot accuse you of structuring. Husbands and wives… this a great time to communicate about money.

Here’s the instructions on how you can file a currency report:

All travelers are also reminded of the currency and reporting requirement found on your customs declaration (CBP Form 6059b). You may bring into or take out of the country, including by mail, as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Ask the CBP officer for the Currency Reporting Form (FinCen 105). The penalties for non-compliance can be severe. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form.

If it’s too late for you and you’ve had your money seized by Customs for failure to file a currency report, bulk cash smuggling, or a structuring violation, do not lose hope. It is possible for you to get your money back. You can find out more about how to get back seized currency by reading our article RESPONDING TO A 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 Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, 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

 

CBP Seizes $51k Cash and Make Arrest

At Miami airport, a traveler from Chile had a run in with U.S. Customs & Border Protection that resulted in a seizure of $51,777. As disclosed by the story below (full version HERE), it a resulted in an arrest, presumably¬†for a currency reporting violation — reporting $20,000 even though he was transporting more than $50,000, and/or dividing his money between he and other travelers in what is commonly called a “structuring” violation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers at Miami International Airport (MIA) arrested a Chilean citizen Thursday for violating federal currency reporting requirements.

During a secondary inspection on July 9th, the man, who arrived from Santiago, Chile, reported possessing $20,000 USD. It was later discovered that the man had given money to three co-travelers in order to evade currency reporting requirements, an illegal practice known as currency structuring. In total, the cash added up to $51,777. CBP officers seized the money and arrested the subject. The subject and currency were turned over to Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD).

“Customs and Border Protection officers offer travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report their currency, but those who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements face severe consequences, including potential criminal charges,” said Christopher Maston, Port Director, Miami International Airport.

The only different nuance in this story which is not altogether apparent is why the currency was turned over to the local police department. Typically, Customs seizes the currency, but apparently Customs did not want to be bothered with it in this case. My hunch would be that, in this case, there was more going on (i.e., criminally) than the failure to report and structuring, which resulted in arrest and local law enforcement getting involved in the arrest and seizure.

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