U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized $50,000 cash at a Philadelphia airport from a traveler arriving from Frankfurt, Germany. No criminal charges have been filed yet. The guy, when asked how much he was travelling with, told CBP a couple hundred bucks. Turns out he had about $50,000 more tucked away in a toiletry bag.
This is actually a pretty common occurrence. Why don’t people tell the truth? Well, panic can cause people to act irrationally. Uniformed law enforcement officers asking terse questions can throw anyone off guard, especially the unsuspecting traveler who was just trying to sleep upright on a 9 hour flight with screaming children two rows back. And oftentimes people don’t know the law, and Customs will usually not explain it to you, if at all, as they should.
Let’s have a look at the story…
CBP officers referred the man and his baggage, several shopping bags and a carry-on bag for a comprehensive secondary examination. He declared, on his Customs Declaration Form and verbally, that he possessed no currency. As CBP officers started inspecting his baggage, the man declared to possessing a “couple hundred dollars.” A CBP officer then discovered a stack of currency concealed inside a toiletry bag, which prompted the man to declare $50,000. The inspection revealed a total of $50,303.
There is no limit to how much currency travelers may bring to, or take from the U.S. However, federal law requires travelers to complete financial reporting forms for any amount that exceeds $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency. Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements risk having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges.
CBP officers provide travelers with multiple opportunities to report truthfully all of their currency.
“We hope that this seizure is a lesson for all travelers that the easiest way to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it to a CBP officer,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.
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, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:
- Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
- Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
- Structuring currency imports and exports
- Is it $10,000 per person? Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
- Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
- Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
- Responding to a Customs currency seizure
- How do I get my seized money back?
- Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
- How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
- Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
- Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
- Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case