The requirement to report cash to Customs applies not only to U.S. currency, but also to foreign currency (among other monetary instruments). Detroit CBP returned $4,000 Canadian dollars to a man who attempted to send the money into the United States to avoid detection, in a kind of reversal of how the forfeiture and seizure process usually works. Bear with as I explain.
If I understand the story correctly, Customs intercepted a package that was shipped from an elderly person in Canada that contained a book. Inside the pages of the book was placed Canadian currency. The cash was put in the book in such a way as to avoid detection. The recipient address of the book/cash in the United States has previously been associated with fraudulent identification sales.
And that’s where the story gets interesting. Though the sender of the book is the person who violated the law (by attempting to smuggle currency into the United States in the pages of a book and by failing to declare the shipment’s true contents), CBP is apparently returning the money to the sender because he was the victim of a scam that targets elderly people.
Kudos to Detroit CBP on this one. Although I have occasion to disagree with their seizure policies and enforcement techniques on occasion, this time it seems they’ve really cut through a black-and-white/good-vs-bad interpretation of the law and are returning the money to its owner, without need for a formal seizure and forfeiture process.