CBP Currency Seizures in Philadelphia for Violations of the Currency Reporting Regulations

CBP in Philadelphia has really stepped up their news releases concerning currency seizures.  Recently, there is a new release which I quote in part below. The Port in Philadelphia always gives us the most detail in the currency seizures, making it ripe for my commentary. Thus, I have put my own emphasis in bold lettering and my comments in [brackets].

A U.S. woman learned a very difficult lesson Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $39,570 that she failed to truthfully report to officers.

The woman, who was not criminally charged [though she could have been, as I write about here], arrived from Portugal with a Portuguese friend. Both women were referred to a secondary examination after both reported possessing more than $10,000 in currency [note that though both reported over $10,000, the report still must be accurate] – the U.S. woman claimed $30,620; the Portuguese woman $20,700. During the secondary examination, CBP officers learned that $40,570 of the combined $51,320 belonged to the U.S. woman [which is a structuring violation if the money was given to her travelling companion to avoid the reporting requirement]. CBP released $1,000 to the U.S. woman for humanitarian purposes and seized the remaining $39,570. Officers advised her how to petition for the seized currency. [And she no doubt is waiting for notice of seizure and election of proceedings form. Read about how to respond to a currency seizure here.]

CBP officers also assessed a $500 mitigated currency reporting penalty to the Portuguese woman. It was one of six currency reporting penalties for a combined $3,500 in penalties that CBP officers assessed to travelers in the two-week period from July 21 to August 4.

There is no limit to how much currency that travelers can bring into, or take out of the United States. Travelers are required to formally report amounts of $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars, equivalent foreign currency, or other monetary instruments.

“CBP derives no great pleasure from seizing travelers’ currency. [Institutionally, perhaps, but the occasional seizing agent no doubt takes some pride in their accomplishments.] However, there are consequences for failing to comply with U.S. laws,” said Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “We hope that word of these penalties will compel these and other travelers to be honest with us and to truthfully declare what they are bringing to the U.S.”

The remaining five currency reporting penalties included:

July 29, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 37-year-old Nigerian man who reported $8,500, but officers discovered that he possessed $11,400.
July 27, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 76-year-old Nigerian man who reported $5,000, but officers discovered that he possessed $11,622.
July 26, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 53-year-old Italian man who reported $7,000 in U.S. dollars, 250 Euros and 500 British pounds. Officers discovered that the man possessed $10,071 in U.S. dollars, 1,150 Euros and 1,500 British pounds, equivalent to $13,213 in U.S. dollars.
July 23, CBP officers assessed a $1,000 penalty to a 68-year-old Italian man who officers found to have structured $24,644 between himself, his brother and his girlfriend to evade reporting requirements for possessing more than $10,000.
July 21, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 38-year-old Ghanaian woman who reported $9,000, but officers discovered that she possessed $11,870.
Privacy laws prohibit CBP from releasing their names as no subjects were criminally charged.

CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international passengers and cargo, and searches for terrorist weapons, illicit narcotics, unreported currency, counterfeit merchandise, and prohibited agriculture and other products.

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If you have other questions about currency seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 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?