In the context of negotiation to get some of my client’s seized cash returned from CBP, I once had a conversation with a Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures officer. I remarked that I couldn’t believe how much money people lost to CBP through cash seizures. Without hesitation, he replied “I can’t believe how much money people don’t try to get back from CBP.”
So in consideration of people about to lose some cash to CBP, let’s have a look at some money seizures by CBP in Texas that are on the verge of being forfeited (that is, lost forever to the government). All of this information is courtesy of www.forfeiture.gov, and spans cash seizure notices of seizure and intent to forefeit for April 22 and April 29.
First up, Houston:
2016530100037301-001-0000, Seized on 04/14/2016; At the port of HOUSTON, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 1; EA;
Valued at $333,485.00; For violation of 31USC5317/5316
A whopping $333,485 was seized in Houston, Texas, for a simply failing to report it. Houston is one of the ports where I’ve heard that Customs can be pretty fair in giving people plenty of opportunity to make the cash report. Next up, Presidio/El Paso, Texas:
EL PASO, TX
2016240300008401-001-0000, Seized on 02/17/2016; At the port of PRESIDIO, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 4,907; EA; Valued at $138,209.00; For violation of 31USC5332(A),31USC5332(C),31USC5316,31USC5317
This is more than just a failure to report — the reference to 31 USC 5332 means that it is also seized for bulk cash smuggling, which likewise means that a greater amount of money is subject to forfeiture by CBP. In addition, because just below this entry and bearing the same case number is a 2004 Ford F150 truck, we can safely assume that this $138,209 was concealed within the the truck.
The last entry, for Laredo, Texas, is more puzzling:
2016231000003901-001-0000, Seized on 04/02/2016; At the port of ROMA, $3,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316,31USC5324
The cash reporting requirement only applies to amounts of money being transported in excess of $10,000, but this entry indicates that $3,200 was seized for both a failure to report and a structuring violation. But you can’t violate the cash reporting law by transporting less than $10,000. So how is it that CBP is forfeiting $3,200?
Well, it’s possible it was some small part of a structuring transaction; but in that case, I would expect to see another entry with the same case number of seizure date the brings the amount to over $10,000. It’s also possible that the person only transported $3,200 because they did not want to have to report traveling with more than $10,000. More likely (in terms of a structuring violation), would be that there was a sequence of transactions of moving money across the border and, when they were all added up and CBP got wind of the structuring plot, they seized this last bit of $3,200. If you don’t understand that, you haven’t read our article on cash structuring to avoid the reporting requirement.
Have you lost cash to CBP through a money seizure?
A loss of cash to CBP through seizure is a traumatic experience. If the money has not already been forfeited, there are some good chances to get it back if you know what you’re doing. Our customs law firms knows what it’s doing. 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.