CBP Seizes $48K Cash at Philly International Airport

Keep Calm and Declare Monetary Instruments Exceeding $10,000 USD

Another day, another currency seizure by U.S. Customs & Border Protection at this nation’s border crossing and airports from an international traveler. This time, the story occurs at Philly International Airport (PHL) but a currency seizure could just as easily happen anywhere.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Philadelphia International Airport seized $48,935 on Tuesday from a Massachusetts man for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The man was boarding a flight to Jamaica and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on an international flight. The man completed a financial form, reporting $4,000, however; CBP officers discovered a total of $48,935 on his person and in his luggage. Officers subsequently seized the $48,935.

This story is a good opportunity to go over some basic information about customs money seizures, which is similar whether at Philly International Airport or elsewhere. First, anytime a person is transporting more than $10,000 in cash or monetary instruments into or out of the country, they must report the cash value to U.S. Customs. In this case, if the man who had his money seized by CBP really had only $4,000, there would be no need to complete the financial form (FinCEN 105) that is mentioned in the story. But, be mindful of what your fellow travelers are carrying in terms of cash to avoid a structuring violation.

Rather, he would be under no duty to report. But in this case, the story suggests (and our experience representing who’ve had cash seized) that Customs were very suspicious that this person was not telling the truth and therefore wanted to catch him in a violation of the reporting requirement and so asked him to complete the financial form.

Because he under-reported the amount of currency he had the money became subject to seizure for, at minimum, a failure to report.Thus, his money was taken by CBP and, if he wants it, he must now get it back by making a petition, an offer in compromise, or filing a claim, and show that the money came a from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use.

The story ends with an accurate warning:

There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.

“Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Philadelphia. “The traveler was given the opportunity to truthfully report his currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”

Have you cash seized at Philly International Airport?

If you’ve had cash seized from CBP at Philly International 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.