Tag: airport cash seizure

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Officer's uniform, featuring the seal of the agency.

Top 10 things to know after a U.S. customs (CBP) money seizure

1. You should expect a CAFRA notice of seizure.

After a customs money seizure, you should expect to receive a CAFRA notice of seizure in the mail. This is different from the custody receipt for seized property you you should’ve received.

2. U.S. Customs is only required to “send” a notice of seizure in 60 days most of the time.

After the U.S. customs seizes money they must send a notice of seizure. In most cases, CBP is not required to confirm it was received, only that it was sent.

3. If CBP sends the notice of seizure and you don’t get it, or its late, your case will suffer.

Someone who has had customs seize cash usually has 30 days from the date on the CAFRA notice of seizure to respond to get money back administratively, or 35 days to take the case to court by filing a CAFRA seized asset claim form. If you do not receive the notice of seizure from Customs, the clock to respond and get your seized cash back from customs is still ticking. Waiting passively for CBP to send the CAFRA notice of seizure will jeopardize your case.

4. You can choose how your case will be handled through an election of proceedings form.

An election of proceedings form is enclosed with the notice of seizure. You must choose an option, sign and return the form as directed to contest your cash seizure case with customs. You should get a free currency seizure consultation before deciding how to proceed to get seized cash back from CBP.

5. Your case will go to court only if you or CBP seeks judicial forfeiture.

Typically the only way you can get your customs money seizure case before a judge is by properly filing a CAFRA seized asset claim form that is signed by you. The detailed instructions for this step are in the notice of seizure and the election of proceedings form.

6. An administrative petition for return of seized cash isn’t an apology letter or explanation.

If you choose to file an administrative petition for returned of seized cash it should not be in the form of an apology letter or explanation to Customs. A notice of seizure is a legal document and requires a legal response. If you admit to a crime or violation there is no way to take it back. If CBP chooses to criminally prosecute you, you will not be able to say you are innocent.

7. You must prove the money was legal.

Whatever election of proceedings option you select, you will have to prove the money seized by CBP was legal and came from a legitimate source. This is most typically done by including supporting documents like affidavits, tax returns, contracts, profit and loss sheets, bank statements, tax returns, business registration certificates, and proofs of employment or income with the administrative petition (if chosen as the option). Be careful not to undershare or overshare with Customs, or accidentally or unknowingly disclose other violations of the law.

Even if you prove the cash seized by CBP was from a legitimate source, you also have to prove that it was going to be used for a legal purpose. This can be a trip itinerary, proof of expenses, medical bills, leases, and other documents.

8. You must be patient; processing times vary by port, sometimes taking a year or more.

If you choose an administrative petition, offer in compromise, or claim, the process can take very long; sometimes a year or more. Doing everything right the first time helps prevent unnecessary delays.

9. Statements made to CBP can be used against you.

It is likely that when you were detained by CBP after the money seizure that you were read your “Miranda rights” and told that you had the right to remain silent. Any statements you made before you were detained and after you were detained and read your rights can be used against you.

10. You may be charged with a crime.

Failure to report cash to customs, structuring cash transactions, and bulk cash smuggling all carry with them civil and criminal penalties. You can be charged either civilly, criminally, or both.

$32k in Cash Laid out on table by US Customs (CBP)

Dulles CBP Seizes $32,000 from Traveler to Ghana

Another blog post, another customs cash seizure at Dulles airport. Most of my clients who have money seized at Dulles airport are most-often traveling to-or-from Ghana, Nigeria, or to a lesser extent, Egypt. This story highlights the dangers of not reporting having more than $10,000 in cash to Customs when traveling in any airport, but especially at Dulles airport.

This story, like many of them publicized at Dulles airport, features money that was hidden. This most likely means CBP will be trying to keep half of the money as a penalty, even if the person is able to prove all of the money came from legitimate sources and had legitimate intended uses. Here’s the story from back in January of this year:

STERLING, Va. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport seized more than $32,000 from a man traveling to Accra, Ghana who violated federal currency reporting regulations.

It is legal to carry large sums of currency into or out of the United States. However, federal law requires

Undeclared cash found hidden in bagage by Customs at Dulles airport
The currency was discovered during
a baggage exam.

that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country. Read more about currency reporting requirements.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, and potential criminal charges.

The man, a citizen of the United States and resident of Liberia, declared verbally and in writing that he possessed $15,000. During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered a total of $33,040. Officers returned $750 to the man as a humanitarian release and allowed him to continue his journey. Officers seized the remaining $32,290.

Has Dulles CBP accused you of bulk cash smuggling?

If Dulles CBP has accused you of bulk cash smuggling, we urge you not to try to do it yourself. You will not be happy with the outcome. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

$17,200 of seized cash spread out on a metal table

San Antonio CBP Seizes $32k Cash in 2 Incidents

The travel restrictions in the United States due to coronavirus have severely limited travel, resulting in a decrease in CBP cash seizure activity due to decreased volume of travel. This is particularly true of air travel, and even the U.S Canada Border. However, that’s not as true at the southern border which is not hit as hard as the northern part of the country (especially Michigan and Chicago, where our offices are located).

In January, CBP reported on two cases where travelers’ from Mexico had money seized totaling about $32,000. The money was seized for cash structuring violations in both cases, which can result in increased penalties if legitimate source and intended use of the seized cash is proven.

The total amount seized from the travelers reached more than $32,000. This currency was seized at San Antonio International Airport CBP officers seized $17,200 in unreported currency when a pair of travelers refused to provide a truthful report.

“There is no limit to the amount of currency a traveler can bring in or take out of the U.S.,” said San Antonio Acting CBP Port Director Jose Mendiola. “The only requirement is that travelers must complete a Currency Reporting Form when traveling internationally with currency valued at $10,000 or more.”

According to Mendiola, the currency is not limited to U.S. dollars. “Currency is any monetary instrument including foreign coins, travelers’ checks, and gold. Basically any negotiable instruments whose collective value reaches $10,000 or more.”

Mendiola added that this requirement also applies to passengers travelling together and carrying currency that exceeds $10,000 dollars. When passengers split up the currency amongst themselves to avoid reporting it that is currency structuring.

Currency structuring led to a seizure, Jan. 22, when CBP officers inspected a pair of Global Entry travelers arriving from Mexico. A 60-year-old citizen of Mexico declared $9,915 and his 44-year-old companion, also a Mexican citizen, declared $4,800. Both passengers completed a Customs Declaration Form declaring those amounts. However, when CBP interviewed the pair they admitted that they divided the money before boarding their flight and that the currency belonged to only one passenger. The final amount seized was $14,807. CBP also revoked both travelers’ Global Entry memberships.

Not both of the travelers above last their global entry membership because of their alleged failure to report cash and cash structuring, which is a common practice by CBP. More significantly though is what might happen in the future; permanent loss (forfeiture) of all of the money, or a steep penalty (which could be 50% or more of the total amount seized).

The second seizure occurred Jan. 23, when CBP officers inspected another pair of travelers who arrived from Mexico. These passengers initially claimed to be traveling alone. The 26-year-old Mexican national claimed to be traveling with $9,000 and completed a Customs Declaration Form reporting that amount. CBP officers later encountered a 25-year-old Mexican citizen who declared traveling with $8,200 and signed a Customs Declaration Form reporting that amount. During CBP processing the pair admitted that they had divided the currency before boarding the flight and decided to enter the CBP processing area separately. Total amount seized in this instance was $17,200.

Nationwide, in fiscal year 2019, CBP seized $68,879,080 in currency. Fiscal year 2020 through Jan. 23, currency seizures are at $20,808,879. In the Houston region, which includes San Antonio and Dallas, currency seizures reached over $1M and have increased 54% over the same time last fiscal year.

Has San Antonio CBP seized cash from you?

If San Antion CBP seized cash from you, we urge you not to try to get the money back on your own. You will not be happy with the outcome. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Dulles CBP Seizes $19000 in Smuggled Cash

In what is ominous to me, CBP in Dulles says they “continue to encounter travelers who attempt to smuggle unreported currency out of the United States.” By smuggling, they mean bulk cash smuggling. And at Dulles airport, for sure, bulk cash smuggling (watch our bulk cash smuggling video here) means they will be trying to keep 50% of the seized money as a penalty, even if legitimate source and intended use are proven.

It’s ominous to me because Dulles CBP is just one of the toughest CBP ports around the country to get money back from, and when you can get it back, the penalties can be very high. The ominous quote is from a recent news releases about a couple heading to Morocco with $19,000, who only reported $8,000.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport continue to encounter travelers who attempt to smuggle unreported currency out of the United States.

It is legal to carry large sums of currency into or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country.

In the latest seizure, a couple destined for Casablanca, Morocco on December 28 acknowledged that they understood federal currency reporting requirements and reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $8,000. CBP currency detector dog Cato alerted to their carry-on baggage and officers discovered additional currency. In total, CBP officers discovered $19,651. Officers seized $19,000 and released $651 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and allowed them to continue their trip.

Has Dulles CBP seized your money?

If Dulles CBP seized your money, we urge you not to try to do it yourself. You will not be happy with the outcome. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

K9 and piles of cash seized by CBP at Dulles airport

Dulles CBP Seize $60,000 in Cash from Turkey and Ghana Travelers

CBP at Dulles seizes cash from a lot of travelers and this cash grab activity generates a lot of news releases for CBP, moreso than other ports around the country where cash seizures are even more common. Why that is, I do not know. However, as I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, Dulles is definitely more aggressive in their processing of cases, especially when it comes to bulk cash smuggling and structuring.

Here’s an excerpt from a story about two such seizures. In the first case, a couple arrived from Turkey and had $20,000 seized. In the second, a couple leaving for Ghana had $40,000 seized (even though they reported $36,000). Here’s the story:

STERLING, Va. – For the fourth time in two weeks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized unreported currency from travelers at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Thursday night, CBP officers encountered a couple from Turkey who reported that they possessed $5,000. Officers advised the couple of federal reporting requirements and the couple confirmed that they understood and again reported $5,000. CBP currency and firearms detector dog Cato alerted to one of the couple’s bags and officers discovered a total of $20,654. Officers seized $20,000 and returned $654 to the couple for humanitarian relief.

On Saturday, CBP officers inspected a couple bound for Ghana who reported that they possessed $36,000, both verbally and in writing. While examining their baggage, CBP officers discovered a total of $40,781 in their possession. Officers seized $40,000 and returned $781 to the couple for humanitarian relief.

Have you had money seized by CBP?

If you’ve had money seized at Dulles airport, we urge you not to try to do it yourself. You will not be happy with the outcome. 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.

Piles of cash seized by CBP officers at Philadelphia airport.

Philadelphia CBP Seizes $17k in Cash to Jamaica

CBP in Philadelphia seized almost $17,000 from a Jamaican national who is also a permanent resident of the United States. CBP does enforce the currency reporting requirement in Philadelphia, but based on my own experience, they do not do so very often. Therefore, this man is probably not a very lucky guy.

As the press release states, he reported only having $8,000 to CBP officer who asked him how much cash he was carrying, but they later discovered a total of $16,542 in his carry-on bag. He was not arrested.

If you have had cash seized at Philadelphia International Airport, you’re among the few. The last case I had in Philadelphia was in 2016, and the only other time before that was in 2015, despite having done nearly 350 cases at other ports/locations around the country. In both instances, the case number and timing of the seizure told me that CBP in Philadelphia seizes property at the airport from travelers probably less than 200 times per year.

But CBP at Philadelphia International Airport has had some big seizures. About a year ago we wrote about two customs cash seizures at Philly International Airport that totaled $152,000.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $16,542 in unreported currency from a Jamaica-bound man at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday. Here’s the story:

The man, a Jamaican citizen and U.S. lawful permanent resident, verbally told CBP officers that he possessed $6,000. Officers explained federal currency reporting requirements and the man verbally and in writing reported that he possessed $8,000. Officers discovered $16,542 in the man’s carry-on bag. Officers seized the currency and released the traveler.

It is perfectly legal to carry large sums of currency in or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000or more in currency [Editor: incorrect, “more than $10,000” is the requirement] or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, and potential criminal charges.

“When Customs and Border Protection officers encounter travelers who don’t properly declare or they conceal large amounts of currency when leaving the country, there can be links to transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore. “The hard work and success of our officers demonstrates CBP’s commitment to disrupting and dismantling these groups and the illicit operations they conduct.”

CBP recently issued travel tips for international travel through Philadelphia International Airport. Chiefly among those tips is for travelers to truthfully report all currency they possess to a CBP officer during inspection.

CBP uses a variety of techniques to intercept narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products, and to assure that global tourism remains safe and strong. On a typical day, CBP seizes an average of about $290,000 in unreported or illicit currency along our nation’s borders. Learn more about what CBP accomplishes during “A Typical Day.

 

$28k laid out on a white table at Dulles airport CBP

Dulles Cash Seizure: $28k to Ghana

Last week or so, CBP at Dulles reported on some recent seizure activity for enforcing the currency reporting requirement for travelers heading to Ghana with  more than $10,000. In this case, the money was discovered when a dog smelled the money in a woman’s carry-on bag. Upon inspection and questioning, the officers found out she structured the money by giving it 5 other people (also traveling to Ghana) on the flight.

Here’s the full story here. 

STERLING, Virginia — On consecutive days, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currency detector dog alert resulted in the seizure Thursday of unreported currency from Ghana-bound travelers at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The currency K9 alerted to one passenger’s carry-on bag. She reported to CBP officers that she possessed $8,000. Officers discovered $11,500 in her carry-on.

The woman then admitted to traveling with four additional passengers. She allegedly reported that her travel companions were carrying currency for her, which is known as structuring, to avoid exceeding the $10,000 reporting threshold. Structuring is a serious allegation that may result in federal prosecution. However, no charges have been filed at this time.

CBP officers had the four additional travelers and their baggage pulled from the flight for further inspection. Officers discovered an additional $16,354 of the first woman’s currency among three of her four travel companions. Officers seized a total of $27,854 and provided the woman $154 as humanitarian relief. Officers released all five travelers.

All five travelers were born in Ghana. Three are naturalized U.S. citizens, one is a U.S. lawful permanent resident of Ghana citizenship, and one is a Ghana citizen.

It is perfectly legal to carry large sums of currency in or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country.

“Structuring currency to deliberately circumvent U.S. law is a serious violation that brings with it potentially severe consequences to the violator, but it does happen and so Customs and Border Protection officers remain vigilant to intercept these currency structuring efforts,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore. “CBP remains committed to enforcing all of our nation’s laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

 

Stacks of Cash at Dulles Airport Seized by Customs for Violating the Currency Reporting Requirements

Dulles Currency Seizure to Ghana

This week, CBP officers at Dulles reported a couple instances of drug seizures at Dulles airport, along with a pretty big cash seizure from a man who was going to Ghana.

The man was stopped by CBP on his way out of the United States, and he was asked to report the amount of currency he had. Verbally, and in writing, he reported carrying $6,500; however, he was actually transporting $67,127.

That’s bad news for him. As I always mention, Dulles is pretty tough on people who carry cash and refuse to report actual amount when asked. At many CBP ports, this man would only end up with a violation of 31 USC 5316 for failure to report the cash; however, I’m nearly certain that at Dulles airport he’s going to end up with a violation of 31 USC 5316 and 5332 for bulk cash smuggling.

This will likely mean that even if he proves the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use, he will face a steep penalty of at least 50% of the amount seized, leaving him with only $33,500.

Here’s the story:


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers enjoyed a bountiful enforcement weekend with the seizure of 353 pounds of khat, 112 pounds of Tetracaine Hydrochloride, and more than $67,000 in unreported currency at Washington Dulles International Airport.


Additionally, CBP officers seized $67,127 from a U.S. citizen bound for Ghana Friday. The man reported verbally and in writing that he possessed $6,500. Officers discovered the currency inside his carry-on bag and concealed within clothing in his checked baggage.


Officers returned $1,127 to the man as humanitarian relief and released him to continue his journey.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/khat-currency-and-cocaine-cutting-agent-seizures-highlight-busy-weekend

STERLING, Virginia –

Cash seized by CBP in Dulles airport for failure to report laid out on a table with Homeland Security logo

CBP Seizes $170k from 7 Travelers at Dulles

Dulles CBP does it again, and again.. and again, again, again, and again, and… again. That is, they sezied almost $170,000 in cash at Dulles airport for not reporting cash to Customs before leaving the country.

The 7 cash seizures by Customs range over a 2 week period, from July 13 to August 1. Travelers were Cash seized by Customs not reported and hidden in a bag at Dulles airporttaking cash to Belgium, Ghana, Turkey, Qatar, and Serbia. In each case, the travelers were stopped by CBP before boarding their plan and incorrectly reported the amount of money they were traveling, when asked.

Note that, if you’re boarding your flight and you haven’t already made the report, even if you make an accurate report when stopped, you’ve already committed the violation of failure to report. Also, in these cases, not filing the report is only one of the potential charges; additionally, the money could be seized for bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses, leading to a higher penalty. Worse yet, CBP can criminally indict any person for bulk cash smuggling, structuring, failing to report, and also making false statements to federal officials (i.e., reporting the wrong amount of money).

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $169,431 during seven recent violations of federal currency reporting laws at Washington Dulles International Airport.

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States.  Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing where they enter or leave the country.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, as illustrated by the following cases, and subjected to potential criminal charges.

  • CBP officers seized $21,735 from a Cameroon woman and son boarding a flight to Belgium August 1.  The family reported $9,700.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $735 to the family for humanitarian purposes and released the family.
  • CBP officers seized $30,721 from a U.S. man boarding a flight to Ghana July 30.  The man verbally reported $9,000 then wrote down that he possessed $11,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in white envelopes in a carry-on bag. Officers released $721 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $26,177 from a U.S. family boarding a flight to Turkey July 29.  The family reported $21,000.  Officers discovered additional currency concealed inside children’s socks and in cell phone cases. Officers released $1,177 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $34,585 from a U.S. man and his Ghanaian wife boarding a flight to Ghana July 23.  The couple reported that they each possessed $10,000.  Officers discovered additional currency during an inspection.  Officers released $1,585 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $18,390 from a U.S. couple boarding a flight to Turkey July 21.  The couple reported $9,090.  Officers discovered additional currency in an envelope in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $20,645 from a U.S. man and his Jordanian wife boarding a flight to Qatar July 19.  The couple reported $14,020.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in the woman’s purse.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $17,178 from a Kosovo woman boarding a flight to Serbia July 13.  The woman reported $8,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in luggage and carry-on bags.  Officers released $1,578 to the woman for humanitarian purposes and released the family.

In each case, CBP officers read the federal reporting requirements to the travelers and solicited their understanding of the law.  Officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency they possessed, both verbally and in writing.

“Customs and Border Protection outbound inspections protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or that fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “These currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

Dulles is one of the more aggressive ports when it comes to seizures, penalties, and criminal indictments. If you’ve had money seized by Customs, you should hire a lawyer.

An image of a traveler's with $10,000 sewn into his pants which was seized by uscbU.S. Customs & Border Protection

Boston Logan Airport Cash Seizure Video

A few weeks back, NECN (an NBC affiliate) published an article and took some video footage at Boston Logan Airport about customs cash seizures at the airport, and by extension, through the country as a whole. The story was apparently initiated after news about there being over $2 million dollars in 2017 seized all across ports in New England.

I think it is probably also some public relations clean-up after maybe a little bad press after the story broke about the Nigerian woman who had her currency unlawfully withheld at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.

I encourage all my many readers to click this link and watch the video, which follows a uniformed CBP officer through Boston Logan International Airport as he intercepts, questions travelers, and counts money. The CBP officer shares some interesting information and insights on the whole cash seizure process, including considerations they undertake when deciding whether to seize someone’s cash.