Tag: failure to report cash

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.

CBP Money Seizure Techniques

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), among its many missions and responsibilities, tries to stop the flow of illegal goods and dirty cash flowing across the borders. In past articles, we wrote about how CBP money seizure techniques target people who might be transporting more than $10,000. Read our piece about Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizure.

But exactly how CBP chooses their targets is less well known. This television show Border Wars has an an episode on Youtube that shows some of the CBP money seizure techniques in use to identify certain people for inspection to verify the amount of cash they are carrying.

If more than $10,000 cash, or if the traveler’s story is suspicious, Customs can seize the cash.

Curiously, the narrator of this program says that for CBP to seize the money it must total more than $10,000. That’s not quite true, customs can also seize it if they feel it is connected to illegal activity under any number of criminal statutes.

In this case, however, the seizure was $65,000, so there was a failure to report (along with bulk cash smuggling) that resulted in seizure. To see the relevant parts, skip to 8:40, 18:30 and 25:00.

Have you been the victim of CBP money seizure techniques?

If Customs and Border Protection seized money from you, you can learn more from our trusted legal guide toa customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Champlain, NY, border crossing with large stop sign where Customs and Border Protection seized money inspecting a vehicle.

Customs and Border Protection Seized Money in Champlain

Annually, ports across the country release news stories about the previous twelve months of enforcement activity. In Champlain, New York, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized money on 3 different occasions that made it into their “Top 10 Seizures and Arrests for 2015.”

Customs and Border Protection seized money in these three cases but we only previously reported on the $24,000 seized on an Amtrak train.

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations has compiled its top 10 seizures and arrests for 2015 at the Area Port of Champlain.  The list of seizures underscores the important role CBP officers play in protecting the country.

The following seizures represent the array of threats encountered at the Area Port of Champlain in both the commercial and passenger environments.  They further portray the efforts of CBP employees to prevent the import of illegal items and protect the commerce of the U.S.

  1. January 4, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $24,671

CBP officers inspecting passengers onboard the Amtrak train at Rouses Point, N.Y., encountered a female U.S. citizen who stated she was coming back from Cuba.  The subject had marked “no” to question 13 on Form 6059B (Customs Declaration) that she had filled out and signed, thus declaring that she was not in possession of over $10,000 U.S. dollars or its equivalent.  The subject was sent for a secondary examination to verify she had no prohibited Cuban goods in her possession.  During examination, it was discovered that she was travelling with $24,671 in unreported currency hidden in her luggage.

The other two stories, quoted below, apparently never made it into the headlines at the time Customs and Border Protection seized money. They are interesting in that the first story involves bulk cash smuggling by a 75 year old lady, and the second involves fraud in that the money was derived from cash advances taken out against credit cards without the intention of repayment. In both cases, Customs and Border Protection seized money.
  1. April 20, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $122,687

CBP officers at the Port of Champlain referred a 75-year-old Canadian female for secondary inspection to verify the answers she gave during primary inspection to basic questions.  During the secondary inspection, a search resulted in the discovery of unreported currency totaling $122,686 U.S. dollars and its equivalent hidden in luggage.  The currency was seized.

  1. June 1, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $38,220

CBP Officers at the Port of Champlain referred two Canadian-born sisters, who each declared $10,000 dollars in Canadian Currency, for a secondary inspection.  During the secondary inspection, it was discovered that they were structuring money for a third individual, who was also applying for admission to the U.S., to avoid reporting requirements.  Further examination revealed that the money had been obtained by taking out cash advances from credit cards with no intention of repayment.  In total, $38,220 dollars in Canadian currency was seized.

Has Customs and Border Protection seized money from you?

If Customs and Border Protection seized money from you, 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.

The back of a CBP officer's shirt reading "CBP Federal Officer" in bold yellow letters.

Newark Airport Cash Seizure from Pilot

Customs seized cash at Newark airport from a commercial airline pilot for bulk cash smuggling. That’s the story reported by the Mumbai Mirror, which states that the pilot tried to smuggle $200,000 in without reporting it to customs and by concealing it inside a newspaper when he attempted to make entry at Newark airport after a trip to Mumbai.

He was arrested and is now being criminally charging him with bulk cash smuggling and making false statements. According to the story, he faces up 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 as a consequence for his false statements and bulk cash smuggling at Newark Airport. The full story is here:

An American commercial airline pilot has been arrested for trying to smuggle in nearly $200,000 in undeclared currency at a Newark airport shortly after arriving as a passenger on a flight from Mumbai.

Anthony Warner, 55, a resident of Dallas, Texas, was arrested at the Newark Liberty International Airport by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and charged with bulk cash smuggling and making false statements.

Officials said that US immigration and customs enforcement agents would not known that Warner was carrying the cash wrapped in a newspaper, besides 10 rings, earrings and other jewellery if the global entry kiosk computer system was in order. A physical screening of baggage led to his arrest. Warner, a commercial pilot, possessed a global entry card that allows for quick clearance when entering the US, officials said.

The complaint said Warner declared he was bringing into the country nothing of value except for $180. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, the US Attorney’s office said. Warner was released on $100,000 bond after his initial appearance before US Magistrate Judge Steven C Mannion.

The reason I share this story is to strongly warn people, whether customs seized cash at Newark airport or any other airport, if it is alleged the cash seizure was for bulk cash smuggling, call us for a free currency seizure consultation because you risk losing all of your money, even if not criminally charged!

It’s interesting that he was not only bulk smuggling cash but also some rings and other jewelry. It certainly sounds a little bit suspicious. But I’m not sure what I suspect, other than the story is a little strange. Why would an airline pilot risk customs seizing cash at the airport, his jewelry, loss of his job, and prison time if this was not connected to some other criminal activity?

Did customs seize cash from you at  Newark airport?

If you’ve had money seized at Houston airport by CBP you can learn more from our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

Stacks of Money Seized at Houston Airport in front of a Homeland Security Seal

$40k Money Seized at Houston Airport by CBP

According to this story, about $40,000 in money seized at Houston Airport by Customs & Border Protection

Stacks of Money Seized at Houston Airport in front of a Homeland Security Seal
Money Seized at Houston Airport by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”)

(CBP) was on its way to Turkey.

This is the tale of a classic failure to report cash to customs, which also might have involved a language barrier (e.g., the reporter could have meant to say “forty-thousand” instead of “four-thousand” if English was the person’s second language). But, in our last post we noted that if Customs has to ask you to report money over $10,000 and you haven’t already filed a FinCen 105 form, you’ve already violated the law.

Here’s the money seizure storm from Houston airport CBP:

HOUSTON– U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday seized more than $40,000 in unreported currency in an outbound enforcement action involving a departing air passenger bound for Turkey.

The [money seized at Houston airport] occurred on Thursday, Jan. 7 when CBP officers conducting outbound enforcement operations observed departing air passengers on a flight bound for Istanbul, Turkey and selected a 73-year-old male U.S. citizen passenger for a secondary inspection after a CBP canine alerted to his luggage. During the examination, the passenger declared $4,000 but subsequent examination by CBP officers revealed a total of $40,091 in unreported currency within his luggage. CBP officers seized the unreported currency.

Was your money seized at Houston airport?

If you’ve had money seized at Houston airport by CBP you can learn more from our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

U.S. Money Seized by Customs (CBP) Stacked on a Table with Envelopes

CBP Confiscated Cash of $18,000 at Dulles

CBP confiscated cash of $18,000 at Dulles Airport from a family bound for Lebanon. The family verbally reported $12,000 cash to customs, then completed a FinCEN 105 form for $14,100.
Upon inspection, CBP discovered they actually had the equivalent of approximately $18,000, consisting of Euros and U.S. dollars. ((The story notes that money was in “several white envelopes”, which could lead to allegations of bulk cash smuggling. We’ve talked about bulk cash smuggling in depth; and be forewarned, if Dulles alleges bulk cash smuggling after CBP confiscated cash, you are going to permanently lose a substantial amount of your money. Read about it at $16k Dulles Airport Currency Seizure by CBP or at Cash seized at Dulles airport by CBP or at Dulles Airport Cash Seizure Nets CBP $40K or at Dulles Airport Money Seizure by Customs of $43,015, just to name a few.))
The real issue we want to address in this CBP cash confiscation story is the “verbal report” the family made. The CBP cash reporting regulations state that the cash report shall be filed “at the time of entry into the United States or at the time of departure . . . . with the Customs officer in charge”.
So, if you are stopped and make an accurate report of cash to Customs without filing a written report of cash on FinCEN 105, you’ve already violated the law. So even assuming the verbal report by the Lebanese family was accurate, there would still be a violation of the currency reporting requirement. A report of cash to CBP must be accurate, in writing, and on time! Otherwise, you’ll next person from who CBP confiscated cash.

Here’s the story about how CBP confiscated cash at Dulles:

CBP officers seized $18,592 on Thursday from a Lebanon-bound family for failure to comply with federal currency reporting regulations. A CBP currency canine alerted to the family on the jetway. The family verbally reported $12,000, and then reported $14,100 on a U.S. Treasury Department currency reporting form after a CBP officer explained the law. A baggage inspection revealed several white envelopes that contained a total of $17,428 in U.S. dollars and 1,164 Euros. CBP officers seized the U.S. currency, released the Euros to the family, and then released the family to continue their trip.
If CBP confiscated cash from you, 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.
Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure nets $145,000 USD

Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure Nets $145k

A Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure occurred in what would be unusual circumstances for average client of our customs law firm. The seizure happened on a boat “near” the waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands during a maritime patrol. Usually our clients face a money seizure at an airport or land border crossing, not on the open water.

Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure nets $145,000 USD
Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure nets $145,000 USD

It is also unusual that there was no failure to report cash; rather, the money was seized primarily due to suspicious circumstances surrounding the encounter. CBP inspected the boat at a local marina and one of the three individuals in the boat tried to get away. That person was in possession of a brown bag with $145,000.

Now, aside from a possible failure to report cash – which is not clear in these circumstances (recall a report only needs to made at the time of entry or exit from the U.S.) – the money was seized under a kind of “catch-all” law that allows the government to seize cash if they believe it is connected to basically any illegal activity.

Let’s have a look at the Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents seized $145,000 from a vessel operated by 3 US citizens. All subjects were released pending further investigation.

“Our agents remain vigilant for illegal smuggling operations, as well as money laundering,” stated Johnny Morales Director of Air Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. During a maritime patrol, a St. Thomas-based marine crew located a vessel with 3 men traversing around the waters of the US Virgin Islands.

The vessel heaved and was escorted for inspection into a local marina, where one of the vessel occupants attempted to flee and was subsequently detained.  He had a brown bag which contained a significant amount of US currency.

The bag contained $145,000 which was seized for a civil forfeiture under title 18 USC section 981.

The story can be accessed here. If you’ve experienced a Virgin Islands CBP Cash Seizure, you can learn more from our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.