Tag: failure to report cash

A picture of a CBP officer watching travelers at an airport. CBP Officers at Philadelphia International Airport seized $26,000 from a couple going to Greece for a failure to report the cash

Philly CBP Seizes $39k Cash Outbound to Jamaica

Here’s a great story out of Philadelphia, where close to $40,000 was seized from a person traveling to Jamaica. CBP in Philadelphia has a good writer; their cash seizures stories are always the most informative or interesting.

In this case, the women whose cash was seized first reported not having more than $10,000; then changed it to $20,000; ultimately, she was found with almost $40,000. Read it for yourself:

PHILADELPHIA — Federal currency reporting requirements are simple.  International travelers can carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States, but they 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.

The consequences for violating federal currency reporting requirements are severe:  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may seize the currency, and officers may criminally charge the violator.

Yet, travelers continue to conceal currency or remain less than truthful during CBP inspections.

A Jamaica-bound traveler departing Philadelphia International Airport Thursday learned this lesson the hard way when CBP officers seized $39,225 that she possessed.  The traveler initially reported that she possessed less than $10,000.  After CBP officers thoroughly explained the currency reporting requirements, she wrote down that she possessed $20,000.  A CBP inspection revealed $39,225.

“This currency seizure illustrates the importance and consequences of travelers complying with all U.S. laws, including currency reporting regulations,” said Shawn Polley, Acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.  “The best way to keep all of your currency is to honestly report it all to a to Customs and Border Protection officers during inspection.”

The traveler was not criminally charged and was allowed to continue her journey to Jamaica.

 

The story ends with the statement that “[o]n a typical day, CBP seizes $289,609 in undeclared or illicit currency along our nation’s borders.” That’s a lot of cash to get seized!

Have you had cash seized by CBP?

If you had cash seized by CBP, 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.

U.S. CBP seized cash hidden in a shipping container at the San Juan, Puerto Rico seaport.

CBP Seizes $29,000 Smuggled at San Juan

A few weeks back, CBP announced another recent seizure of unreported cash at the San Juan seaport in a shipment of cargo containers. A customs cash seizure in Puerto Rico also happened back in May. The story makes the same curiously absent identification of the event as being an incident of bulk cash smuggling, not just a failure to report.

In this case, the seizure of cash happened when U.S. Customs & Border Protection offciers were examining cargo containers and discovered some anomalies (presumably when imaging) a 55 gallon drum. The cash was destined for the Dominican Republic, as below:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET) seized approximately $29,000 in unreported currency in an outbound enforcement action at the San Juan Seaport.

The interception occurred Oct. 21 while CBP officers were examining cargo containers at a CBP facility.  CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of a container and discovered anomalies on a 55 gallon storage drum. Further examination revealed the hidden currency.  The container was destined to the Dominican Republic.

This is interesting because it again demonstrates that the currency reporting law applies equally to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Have you had cash seized by CBP in Puerto Rico?

If CBP seized your cash in Puerto Rico, 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.

$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.

10 bundles of cash totaling more than $90,000 laid out on top of a black plastic as seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Laredo, Texas, after a secondary examination.

CBP seizes $91,000 in secondary examination

Another day, another dollar… seized. In Laredo, Texas, the Texas-Mexico border town, U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized about $90,000 from a 30 year old Mexican national heading back to Mexico.

October 1 begins the government’s new fiscal year, and this story of unreported cash being seized by CBP is likely one of the first of many for CBP Laredo of 2017. As you’ll note in the story, a “secondary examination” of the vehicle turned up hidden packages of “unreported cash” — that is, truly a bulk cash smuggling offense, even if still a failure to report. A secondary examination, or intensive examination, usually involves the dismantling of the vehicle in search of contraband; the removing of body panels, an undercarriage inspection, etc. It can be very destructive, as can be seen in the following video:

But, on to the story as reported by CBP:

The interception occurred on Friday, Oct. 21 while CBP officers and agents conducting outbound (southbound) inspections at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge referred a 2013 Toyota Prius driven by a 30-year-old male Mexican citizen for a secondary inspection.  CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of the vehicle and discovered packages hidden within the vehicle that contained $91,708 in unreported currency.

CBP officers seized the currency and the vehicle. CBP officers arrested the driver and turned him over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., however, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they will need to report it to CBP. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, traveler’s checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

Did CBP take your money?

If CBP took your money, you can learn more from 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.
A picture of CBP canine who discovered unreported cash that was seized by CBP at Dulles Airport in front of the table of cash emblazoned with CBP logo.

Dog Detects Federal Currency Reporting Violations at Dulles Airport

U.S. Customs & Border Protection uses canines to assist its law enforcement functions. When most people think of police dogs, they think of their use in detecting drugs; but they can also be used to find the presence of unreported cash.

And that is the subject of a recent story from CBP in Dulles airport when they seized nearly $75,000 from two men bound for Serbia (also apparently involved in unlawful cash structuring).

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a total of $73,900 from two Serbia-bound travelers for violating federal currency reporting requirements on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Neither man was criminally charged. CBP officers released the travelers to continue their journey.

CBP officers initially stopped the first man in the jetway to the airplane and asked how much currency he possessed.  The man reported $1,500 verbally and in writing.  CBP officers inspected his carry-on baggage and jacket and discovered four envelopes that contained approximately $50,000.

Meanwhile, CBP’s currency detector dog “Nicky” alerted to another passenger, who then claimed to be the first subject’s son-in-law.  The second man reported that he possessed $7,000, but a subsequent inspection discovered two envelopes in his jacket that contained approximately $20,000.

CBP officers verified that the currency totaled $73,900 in U.S. dollars between the two family members.

In this case, the violations of the federal currency reporting laws did not lead to criminal charges, but theoretically they could be charged within 5 years due to the statute of limitations period. But as always, federal currency reporting laws mean that, even when not criminally charged, asset forfeiture of the cash by customs will still occur. In this case, CBP seized almost all of the money. To get it back, these men will have to show that the money has no nexus to illegal activity and, even if they can do that, they will still likely face a loss of at least 50% of the money; CBP’s guidelines for structuring and bulk cash smuggling are far more stringent than their guidelines for a failure to report.

The Loudon Times-Mirror reported on the same story, and added that the dog, Nicky, is a Malinois dog, and that CBP returned $1,500 to the men and released them to continue their trip, which is generally called a “humanitarian release” by CBP.

Have you violated the federal currency reporting regulations?

If you violated the federal currency reporting regulations, 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.

CBP in Laredo, Texas, seized more than $130,000 from 2 Mexican nationals return to Mexico

CBP Laredo Seizes > $130K in Cash

Last weekend, CBP officers in Laredo, Texas seized more than $130,000 from two Mexican nationals who were leaving the United States to return to Mexico. What is noteworthy about the story is that the money was apparently not smuggled in a hidden compartment within the vehicle, but was found during a “non-intrusive inspection” by CBP officers and a canine.

Here’s the news release:

LAREDO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to work outbound inspection operations at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge seized over $130,000 in U.S. currency in a single enforcement action over the weekend.

The seizure occurred on Sunday, Aug. 28, when a CBP officer referred a 2014 Volkswagen Vento for an intensive inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 33-year-old Mexican male from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and a 25-year-old Mexican male passenger also from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. A canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers resulted in the discovery of 13 packages containing $136,424 in U.S. currency.

“CBP officers not only ensure that inbound travelers and cargo comply with U.S. laws and regulations but also conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S. and protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity,” said Port Director Gregory Alvarez, Laredo Port of Entry. “This weekend’s significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing federal currency reporting requirements.”

The writer of the news release seems to indicate these people may be innocent of any crime; no names are revealed and the word “alleged” is used to describe “illegal activity.” That’s unusual because the story does say that both men were arrested and handed over to Homeland Security Investigations.

Has Laredo CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Laredo 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.

Being Forced to Abandon Cash to Customs can Occur by Signing an Election of Proceedings form or Notice of Abandonment form

Threatened by CBP to abandon cash

Based on our sources, I have come to the belief that a good chunk of the notices of seizure and intent to forfeit publications/postings concerning cash seized at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport are the result of an effort, on the part of some CBP officers, to encourage people to abandon their money through such things as the threat of arrest, or the threat of futility. Read the we called “Forced to Abandon Cash to Customs?” from a few months ago about the process.

The threat of arrest is real, if often improbable. Not reporting currency, smuggling cash, and/or structuring it is a crime, even punishable by prison. But, in our experience, if there is no apparent and obvious connection to illegal activity, CBP will not make an arrest and there will be no criminal prosecution.

At the time of seizure, I’ve had clients tell me they are presented (prematurely…) with an “election of proceedings form”. The election of proceedings form is explained to them in a way that leads the client to believe there only chance of avoiding arrest is to choose to abandon the money and relinquish all rights to it and to future notice; and if they don’t want to abandon it, they will be arrested, will have to go to court, and even if they win, they will only get back a few dollars due to fees and penalties that will be charged. That’s the threat of futility. Why fight if you’ll never win?

This is not true. Never, ever trust the people who are seizing your money to tell you the truth about the best way to get it back. Never take legal advice from anyone who is not a lawyer, especially if that person is has no reason to act in your best interests. Above all, remember, you have the right to remain silent.

With this in mind, last week’s Forfeiture Notice for Detroit contained a high dollar seizure that occured on June 29, 2016, at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Here’s the excerpt:

2016380700090601-001-0000, Seized on 06/29/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 437; EA; Valued at $36,090.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316,  31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

When faced with a situation where CBP is telling you to abandon the cash or risk everything, it’s the proverbial gun to the head. “Give me your money or your life” situation. Don’t be fooled, the choices CBP may have presented you with are not real. They are false, and might be designed to manipulate you into abandoning your hard earned money.

Did you abandon cash to Customs (CBP)?

If you abandoned your cash by mistake, or by the threat of force or coercion, you need the advice of a customs lawyer, not this article (which is not legal advice). If you were forced to abandon cash to Customs, you can learn more about the process from 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.

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

Detroit CBP Seizes $10,005 in Cash at DTW

Press releases from CBP about cash seizures have been slow for the past several weeks, but there are still plenty of people getting money seized and lots of forfeiture actions being published on forfeiture.gov, like the following case where slightly more than $10,000 was seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on June 16:

2016380700087701-001-0000, Seized on 06/16/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 101; EA; Valued at $10,005.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

What a bummer for this person; he had another $5 with him that took him the category of people who do not have to file the currency report, to the category of people that must file. My guess is that he knew the reporting limit was $10,000, so that’s all he took with him (which could be a structuring violation, anyway); but he probably forgot about a $5 bill in the fold of his wallet, or in the pocket of his luggage. This is technically – legally – a violation of the reporting law. Of course, Detroit Customs seized his cash.

Sometimes they let people amend their report, sometimes they do not. I’ve had clients who’ve had money seized in same detention area with someone who, also failing to report, have not had money seized. I presume the decision to seize is dependent on the facts and circumstances of the seizure, and it is not just entirely arbitrary and capricious. I would really, really, like to believe that.

If you are traveling with $10,000.01 or more, you must file a currency report with CBP. If he was traveling with $10,000, no report was necessary. But, because he had $10,005, he had to file a currency seizure report.

Has Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If Detroit 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.

A picture of a CBP officer watching travelers at an airport. CBP Officers at Philadelphia International Airport seized $26,000 from a couple going to Greece for a failure to report the cash

CBP’s Big Fat Greek Cash Seizure

In Philadelphia, CBP did what you might call a big, fat, greek cash seizure, when they seized $26,000 from a couple who were leaving the United States for Greece.

The couple reported $17,000, but for some reason they did not report the other $9,000, which was found in “multiple envelopes.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $26,000 from a Greece-bound couple who violated federal currency reporting regulations at Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday.

During an outbound inspection, the couple reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $17,000. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered multiple envelopes that contained a combined $27,052. CBP officers provided the couple a humanitarian release of $501 and seized the remaining $26,551.

Officers released the couple to continue their travel to Greece.

Why would the couple fail to report the extra $9,000 to CBP? There are some things we do not know for certain. For example, the CBP officer could have led the couple to believe they only needed to report their own money, not money they were carrying for others; they could have asked them how much money they were carrying “in your carry-on”, when the other money was stashed away in a purse. And they could have panicked.

The story says that the couple was allowed to continue their travel to Greece. Most of my clients who’ve had money seized from Customs have to re-book for another flight, because the process of counting the money and seizing results can be a substantial delay. Sometimes my client’s don’t continue to their destination even if they can, because they have no money to travel with.

I’ve had clients who’ve taken a month off work for a vacation to their homeland, only to have their money seized with no source of funds to continue on the trip until they get their cash back. When CBP seizes cash, it is very often a heartbreaking, stressful, and traumatic experience.

But we are here to help! If you want to learn more about responding to a customs cash seizure in Philadelphia or anywhere else, read our trusted customs cash seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.