Tag: airport cash seizure

Stacks of cash and a pile of envelopes seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Dulles Airport CBP seizes over $77k in cash

CBP at Dulles Airport in Virginia is taking more and more cash from travelers, and is spreading the news far and wide in news releases such as the one that follows. In this particular story, there is a story of SIX currency seizures in July that resulted in a seizure of cash of more than $150,000, all for a failure to file the currency report for more transporting more than $10,000.

As such, these CBP airport cash seizures were totally avoidable. It is legal to transport more than $10,000 in cash, but it’s illegal not to report the transportation of that cash. The airport cash report is required when leaving the country, and when arriving. It’s pretty simple, but you can read about it. Here’s the story as narrated by some fine CBP employee with knowledge of the facts:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $77,586 combined in three seizures of travelers flying international through Washington Dulles International Airport recently for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

CBP officers seized:

  • $20,211 from an Ethiopia-bound couple on Saturday. The couple reported $8,000 and then $11,600; however, a CBP currency canine alerted and CBP officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag and purse, and in wallets each possessed.
  • $33,796 from a Burundi woman who arrived on a flight from Ghana on July 27. The woman reported $9,000. CBP officers discovered $32,765, 483 Ghanaian Cedi and 50 UAE Dirhams for a total U.S. dollar equivalent of $33,796.
  • $23,579 from a mother and son bound for Sudan on July 24. They verbally reported “less than $10,000,” and then wrote down $9,800. CBP officers discovered an additional $4,000 in a laptop case and multiple envelopes in a purse that contained a combined $10,579 for a total count of $23,579.

During each seizure, CBP officers permitted the travelers numerous opportunities to truthfully report their total currency, including having the travelers read and sign the currency reporting requirements, and make verbal and written declarations before officers conducted inspections.

 

Any airport cash seizure by CBP at Dulles airport brings with it great risk. To my knowledge, Dulles airport strictly enforces a penalty of 50% for anyone involved in a structuring or bulk cash smuggling offense; and they broadly interpret the laws of structuring and bulk cash smuggling.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

Dulles Airport CBP Took Cash from Husband and Wife

Dulles Airport CBP Seizes $25k from Bosnia and Herzegovina-bound travelers

Cash seizures at airports have spiked in Detroit, and also apparently in other regions, such as Dulles airport. As a case in point, here is yet another story about CBP seizing cash from a traveler at the airport in Sterling, Virginia: Washington Dulles International Airport.

Here is the full story (original here):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $25,000 Wednesday from travelers departing Washington Dulles International Airport for violating federal currency reporting regulations.A Bosnia and Herzegovina-bound family reported to CBP officers that they possessed $9,000. The father then signed a U.S. Treasury form reporting they possessed $15,000.A CBP inspection discovered a total of $19,754 in U.S. dollars and 5,085 Euros, combined equivalent to $25,616 in U.S. dollars, in possession of the three-person family.

CBP officers seized the currency and returned 985 Euros ($1,135 U.S. dollar equivalent) to the family for humanitarian purposes.  No charges were filed.  Officers released the family to continue their travel.

And here is what CBP Dulles is saying about the up-tick in airport currency seizures on their watch:

This is CBP’s third outbound currency seizure in two weeks at Dulles.  CBP officers seized $29,698 from a Qatar-bound family July 9 and $18,900 from a Ghana-bound man July 11. Read more about those unreported currency seizures.

“These continued currency seizures clearly illustrate the consequences of travelers not making truthful declarations to Customs and Border Protection officers,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles.  “The best way to keep all of your currency is to honestly report it all to Customs and Border Protection officers during inspection.”

They go on to get the reporting requirement, wrong, again (hint: it is more than $10,000, not $10,000 or

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

 

It is also true that none of the money is taxed, at least by Customs. If it is considered “income,” it may be taxable. But if you’ve already paid income taxes on the money, then it is definitely not taxable again by the IRS.

Has CBP seized your cash at the airport?

If CBP seized your cash at the airport, read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

Cash seized by Detroit Airport CBP: Going, going… gone?

I’ve been a busy customs lawyer recently, but most especially the last six months. Therefore, while I’ve still been trying to get each of you many readers some new stuff for the customs law blog each week, my attention has been mostly elsewhere.
And so, I’ve finally got back to keeping an eye on the weekly forfeiture notices published U.S. Customs & Border Protection each week. There was nothing interest this week for Detroit or Chicago in terms of CAFRA seizures, but last week’s notice had some unfortunate postings:
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 28, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 28, 2017
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 27, 2017
2017380700072301-001-0000, Seized on 02/08/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 217; EA; Valued at $20,719.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31CFR1010.340(A)
2017380700078501-001-0000, Seized on 02/22/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 151; EA; Valued at $13,989.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)
I cringe when I see entries like this. What in the hell happened that two people have let almost $35,000 get published for forfeiture? Both occurred at Detroit airport in February, both contain no allegations of illegal activity aside from a failure to report or a cash structuring violation, and yet…. here it is, just about as good as gone. (The only way it would be published and not as good as gone is if someone filed seized asset claim form, as opposed to some administrative option. Generally, for most people and cases, a claim is a bad idea. Despite what other self-styled “premier forfeiture litigators” may put on their websites.)
“But wait!” you say, “the deadline to file a claim is not until June 27!” That is true, but you are ineligible to file a claim if you received a notice of seizure letter. So if you just chose to do nothing in the 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice then you can’t step in and file a claim once it has been published…. that is unless you have a Really Clever Customs Lawyer.
$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

Dulles CBP Seizes $52K headed for Ghana

It is now my opinion that Dulles CBP is vying to be first in currency seizures in the nation. That is a distinction held by Detroit CBP in the 2015 fiscal year. That year, the seized cash from over 500 people.

My opinion about Dulles is based on the most recent of many stories about Dulles CBP seizing cash from unwitting (and sometimes witting..) travelers at Dulles airport in Sterling, Virginia, since only September.

This story, like those, involves a failure to report cash to Customs; in this case, though, the person involved reported $40,000 – way more than than the $10,000 – and he actually possessed slightly more than $52,000. Now, it’s still illegal to underreport cash even when you do report more than $10,000. In other words, no matter how much you carry and how much you report, the report of cash to Customs still has to be ACCURATE. Being off by $12,000 is not accuracy.

But, the story is unique in that many people will report to Customs that they are carrying $9,990, or $9,800, or $9,700, when they are really carrying more than $10,000. They think that as long as they report some number less than $10,000, they will not be scrutinized. They’re wrong.

This man, however, reported $40,000. That seems like good faith to me, and my guess is he probably did not know exactly how much he had with him (yes, it happens), and he gave it his best guess, never expecting to be held to such a strict account by U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $52,000 from a Ghana-bound U.S. citizen on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

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.

During an outbound inspection, the man declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that he possessed $40,000; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $52,156 on his person and in his luggage.  The officers seized the $52,156 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The traveler was then released to continue his journey.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash you need a lawyer. That’s what we do. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

A pile of $20 bills on a table.

CBP Seizes Structured Cash at Dulles

CBP Dulles seized over $23,000 that was unlawfully structured and not reported. Below, the story from CBP, explains that the a man was leaving the United States for South Africa and reported only $9,000, when he really had more than $13,000. This is the second recent story about a cash seizure at Dulles for from someone traveling to South Africa.

To make matters worse, CBP discovered that he was traveling with his sister, who was carrying another $10,000 for her brother. At Dulles airport, a structuring offense means a hefty penalty even if legitimate source and intended use of the documentation is presented.

Here are the interesting parts of the story, as told from the perspective of CBP Dulles:

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $23,000 from a South Africa-bound traveler on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

During an outbound inspection, a CBP currency detection canine alerted to the carryon bags of a U.S. citizen.  The man, both verbally and in writing, declared to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000; however, $13,267 was discovered in his bags and on his person.  During the course of the inspection it was determined that he was traveling with his sister, a Ghanaian citizen.  An additional $10,000 in unreported currency was found in her bags which the man stated belonged to him.  The officers seized the $23,267, returned $667 to the man for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

Did you structure cash seized by CBP?

If you structured cash that was seized by CBP, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

A picture of nearly $150,000 in cash seized by CBP laid out on a table

Seizures of undeclared cash from Chinese nationals on the rise

In “Seizures of undeclared cash spike at Vancouver International Airport“, reporters for The Globe & Mail did a lot of good reporting work and present interesting information on customs cash seizures from Chinese nationals occurring in Canada.

For instance, in the past 3 years customs seized $13 million dollars from 792 Chinese nationals passing through the airport. The average seizure was $17,000. The substance of the article is that these people are bringing the money into the country to get it out of China’s economy (which they fear may crash), to buy homes and/or invest in real estate. This has artificially inflated the property values in cities like Vancouver, and the government there imposed a tax on foreign purchasers of real estate to cool the market. We’ve previously blogged about this in Cash From China Seized Due to Capital Controls and Why some Chinese travel with cash leading to airport seizures.

If you’re interested in customs cash seizures, you should definitely check out the entire article. However, I’ll quote what I find most interesting below:

As Vancouver’s housing market began sizzling, border guards at the nearby international airport were seizing millions of dollars in undeclared cash from Chinese citizens, with total amounts jumping 50 per cent in each of the past three calendar years, government data show.

According to the information, released to The Globe and Mail by a New Democrat MLA, during that period, border guards confiscated more than $13-million in hidden currency from 792 Chinese people passing through Vancouver International Airport, which is Canada’s second-busiest after Toronto. The average person had $17,000 in hidden bills, bank notes or drafts.

That is in addition to the $323-million declared at the airport by 20,000 Chinese citizens or passengers on flights to and from that country, during roughly the same period, according to data released to The Globe through a freedom of information request.

Experts say these sums of hidden and declared money, which dwarf the funds brought through the airport from other countries, were likely carried by some of the 922,000 people from China recently given 10-year temporary visas, which allow them to visit for up to six months at a time.

Former RCMP investigator and financial crimes specialist Kim Marsh said many travellers bring large amounts of money – or bank notes or drafts – instead of transferring them through institutional routes because they want to avoid paying taxes in Canada and get around Chinese currency laws that make it illegal for the average citizen to take more than $50,000 (U.S.) a year out of that country.

[ . . . ]

Daniel Kiselbach, a Vancouver-based tax litigator, said the vast majority of Chinese citizens bringing large amounts of cash into B.C. are “just trying to get along in life and they have legitimate reasons for having the money in their possession,” such as buying gifts for family members or paying for living expenses at university.

He said that these visitors have many disincentives to report their assets to the Chinese government and are likely just as suspicious of how information on their finances will be handled in Canada.

“Maybe that would get back to the Chinese government, I don’t know,” Mr. Kiselbach said.

Two years ago, Mr. Kiselbach tried to get Ottawa to divulge whether it has an agreement to share such information with China, as it does with the United States and other Commonwealth countries. Canada Border Services Agency does not make these agreements public, he said.

Vancouver MLA David Eby, housing critic for the opposition New Democrats, said he is concerned that the amount of cash seized from Chinese citizens at YVR rose from $2.8-million in 2013 to $6.4-million last year.

[. . . ]

Anyone can bring as much money as they want in or out of Canada as long as they declare any sum of $10,000 or more – otherwise it could be seized. Border guards at Vancouver airport confiscated $19-million in undeclared cash from 2013 to 2015, with almost three quarters of it belonging to Chinese citizens. (Upwards of 3,200 passengers arrive each day from flights originating in Hong Kong and mainland China, according to data from the airport.)

Experts say Chinese travellers could have several reasons for not declaring assets.

Mr. Kiselbach added that CBSA likely ramped up the scrutiny on Chinese passengers because it gives increased attention to citizens from countries deemed a high risk for activities such as money laundering and financing terrorism.

Hayley Howe, an anti-money laundering expert at Vancouver-based consulting firm MNP, said many foreign visitors may be unaware of Canada’s currency reporting requirements or unable to read the customs form properly when they enter or exit the country.

Has U.S. Customs & Border Protection  seized your cash?

If U.S. Customs & Border Protection has seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP Seizes $44k from Couple Flying to Ghana

What happens when you’re going to Ghana and you don’t declare your cash to CBP? Your cash is a Goner! Last week, CBP at Dulles Airport in Sterling Virginia seized $44,606 from a couple leaving the United States from Ghana.

According to CBP, the couple told CBP they only had $14,000…. that’s about $30,000 less than what they were carrying. If true, that is a pretty serious failure to report violation. No one forgets they are carrying $30,000 less than they have.

But there are always two sides to every story. In my experience, CBP occasionally has a way of justifying cash seizures if the facts later turn out not to support their reasons for seizure (like when family is traveling together and they think the money was intentionally structured). Here’s the story from CBP’s perspective:

In separate incidents on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted an impostor who arrived from Ghana, and seized about $44,000 from a couple heading to Ghana.

[ . . . ]

Moments later, a CBP K9 alert led to CBP officers seizing a total of $44,606 in U.S. dollars and equivalent foreign currency from a Ghanaian couple who attempted to board a flight to Ghana. The woman was already on the flight when CBP officers interviewed the man. The Ghanaian man reported to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000. He then reported that his wife had an additional $5,000. CBP officers discovered the additional currency during a baggage inspection.

CBP returned $1,500 to the couple and released them to continue their journey.

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.

None of the three travelers was arrested. The Privacy Act prohibits releasing the travelers’ names since they were not criminally charged.

“These are two very serious violations of U.S. immigration and currency reporting laws, and these travelers are very fortunate to avoid criminal prosecution,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “Customs and Border Protection hopes that these incidents are a reminder to all travelers to be truthful with CBP officers. The United States is a welcoming country, especially to those who respect our nation’s laws.”

Has CBP seized your cash?

If CBP has seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

CBP Cash Seizure Chicago O’Hare Airport

On April 12, 2016, some poor soul in Chicago had over $16,000 currency seized at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. For what, you ask? Well, judging from the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit published Friday last, some violation of Title 31 of the United States Code.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: June 24, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: July 23, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: August 23, 2016

2016390100067501-002-0000, Seized on 04/12/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 768; EA; Valued at $16,210.00; For violation of 31USC

As can be seen, the notice published on the forfeiture.gov contains, what I assume, is a clerical error. Typically, these notices will contain a host of laws violated. 31 USC is not a law, but rather, an entire book of laws that outlines the role of money and finance in the United States. It is most likely that the money was seized for purported violations of the usual suspects; 31 USC 5316, 31 USC 5324 and/or 31 USC 5332.

My sources tell me that O’Hare International Airport recently began permitting on-site mitigation of cash seizures valued at less than $25,000, to ease the processing burden on the folks who handle the petitions filed with FP&F Chicago. Customs policy permits individual ports to choose to offer on-site mitigation when the persons are transporting less than $25,000 and they mis-report an amount that is 5% or less in variance with the actual amount being transported.

If on-site mitigation was an option, the likely explanation for the seizure still occurring is a misreport of 5% or more in the amount that was being carried by the traveler. Over the years, we’ve helped a lot of people who have their cash seized by CBP at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Do not let your cash seizure case in Chicago get to the point that CBP publishes a forfeiture notice.

Did CBP seize cash from you at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport?

If you have had currency seized from Chicago CBP, please contact us in Chicago at (773) 920-1840. Our customs lawyer in Chicago’s office is a short walk from U.S. Customs & Border Protection Chicago’s Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures office.

CBP checkpoint at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing, with vehicles in the foreground.

Over $350k per day in cash seized by CBP in 2015

CBP tweeted the other day about cash seized by CBP in 2015, and drug seizures. On “a typical day,” CPP seized $356,396 in cash nationwide; based on the number for the Detroit field office, $27,581 was seized “on a typical day” in Detroit.

Because CBP Detroit was #2 in the nation for currency seizures based on total amount of seizures (totaling $10M), a large part of that national average is due to the efforts of CBP Officers at the ports in the Detroit Field Office, most especially the officers at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

The cash seizures are from you run-of-the-mill everyday traveler who are bringing money to the United States for tuition, medical treatment, and to establish a new life; other times, the cash seizures are part of a cash smuggling operation bringing the money into or out of the United States to further the illicit narcotics trade across the borders.

In Detroit, our experience is most of these cases are run-of-the-mill travelers coming into the United States with legitimate money that’s intended to be used for legitimate sources. With our experience and good documentation, we are help to get cash back from Customs after seizure.

The lesson? Prevent seizure of cash by reporting all currency, fully, accurately, and completely to U.S. Customs & Border Protection before they have a chance to stop and question you about it. Don’t be like the poor folks who had their cash seized by CBP in 2015, be sure to report your money. Remember, the duty it yours to report the transportation of more than $10,000 into or out of the country before you are ever asked to make a report!

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP Seized $45,000 Cash in Envelopes

Dulles CBP seized cash in envelopes from a man en route to Belgium last Sunday. According to the story,

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo
CBP at Dulles Airport seized $45,000 for failure to report the cash to customs.

the man reported having $30,000 only after being stopped. In reality, he had a total of $44,922.

The officers told him how to petition for return of his cash, but why would anyone take legal advice from a non-lawyer, especially law enforcement that just seized a stash of cash hidden in envelopes? This is why we offer a free currency seizure consultation, and why we’ve provided some guidance on options other than filing a petition; such as a claim and offer in compromise. Here’s CBP’s story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized $44,922 Sunday from a Maryland man for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

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.

A man was boarding a flight to Belgium 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 $30,000 however; a total of $44,922 was discovered within two envelopes on his person. CBP officers seized the $44,922 and advised him how to petition for the return of the rest of the 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 Patrick Orender, CBP Assistant Port Director for the Port of Washington Dulles. “The traveler was given the opportunity to truthfully report his currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”

Has CBP seized cash in envelopes from you?

If you’ve had cash seized in envelopes at Dulles or another 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.