Tag: failure to report

Currency Seizures by U.S. Customs Increase on the Holidays

The holidays always seem to be ripe for currency seizures by U.S. Customs & Border Protection because of the increased amount of travel that invariably happens during the holidays. And when I say holidays, I do not mean those national and international holidays, too.

Whether you’re crossing the U.S.-Canadian border to participate in the the holiday festivities with your family, or you’re a Chinese national returning from China with a bagful of red envelopes (hongbao) from surprisingly generous relatives, or simply trying to get some money back to your family in Syria or Egypt who face a grave humanitarian crisis, we can help you get your seized money returned to you. If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact pageRead about responding to a customs currency seizure.

So, it is no surprise that there will be an up-tick in currency seizures during this Fourth of July weekend. This news story was released yesterday and occurred on June 30, where CBP Officers Seizure $39,000 in Unreported Funds. It will probably be just the first in a string of currency seizures in the news.

Phoenix, Ariz. — A local man attempted to smuggle $39,100 in unreported U.S. currency into the United States from Angola.

On Sunday afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport were conducting inspections of arriving passengers on a British Airways flight referred a 67-year-old man for further inspection. During the search of the man’s luggage, officers found envelopes containing the large volume of unreported currency. The cash was processed for seizure.

The man was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

CBP’s Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation’s ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation’s food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.

We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Call (734) 855-4999 today.

CBP Seizes $205,500 in Unreported Money

As reported by CBP in a recent news release:

Lukeville, Ariz. – Two Mexican nationals were arrested Monday for attempting to smuggle $205,500 of unreported U.S. currency into Mexico through the port of Lukeville.

Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections selected a 2000 Toyota sedan for a secondary inspection. The vehicle’s occupants [ . . . ] told officers they had nothing to declare. During the inspection, however, officers found 22 bundles of U.S. currency in the vehicle’s panels.

Both individuals were referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The cash and vehicle were seized.

Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Live and learn, and quit smuggling. The vehicle was probably seized under authority of 19 USC 1595a, which allows Customs to seize any conveyance which has been outfitted for the purposes of smuggling (e.g., vehicles with secret compartments, boats with false floors, secret hull compartments, etc.). The money was probably, at least until criminal charges are made, seized for a simple bulk cash smuggling and/or failure to report the transportation of more than $10,000 out of the United States.

And while we are on the topic, isn’t this fact pattern a much more obvious case of bulk cash smuggling? The money was concealed in the vehicle’s panels, and there is likely no logical reason why it should be stored there; but, this qualifies for concealment and, as the bulk cash smuggling law is written, so does simply having it stored in your luggage, as explained in previous articles.

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. Read about responding to a customs currency seizure.

We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

 

$19,000 money seizures by Customs in Philadelphia

It’s nice to see news releases about things other than currency seizures that occur at the U.S.-Mexican border involving bulk cash smuggling. This particular one is from Philadelphia, and the original story is available here. Before we get to the meat of the story, let me point out a few things:

moneystack

First of all, note that “surrendering” is an interest choice of words; if not just poor word choice by the author, it suggests that money was turned over voluntarily rather than seized, perhaps in recognition of some wrongdoing. I have never come across anyone who just surrenders their money to customs and then is instructed to file a petition. I have had Customs allege client’s had “abandoned” the money that was seized, but why the curious choice of words in either case I do not know.

Second, the story mentions that the Indian man paid a $1,000 civil penalty. This means that the man must have been travelling with sufficient documentation to prove legitimate source and no connection to criminal activity, and further, that he had a legitimate intended use for the money — necessary elements to responding to a notice of currency seizure. In some circumstances, where the amount transported is less than $25,000 Customs can eliminate the need to file a petition for the money by mitigating the seizure on-site.

The story, with my emphasis in bold:

Philadelphia – A U.S. citizen learned the importance of being truthful on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) declarations and to CBP officers after surrendering $19,000 for violating federal currency reporting requirements Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport.

During a secondary inspection, the man, who arrived from Germany, reported possessing no money upon his return to the United States. CBP officers explained the currency reporting requirements to which the man said he understood, then verbally and in writing declared no money. CBP officers then discovered $19,417 in U.S. dollars and 405 Euros. CBP officers returned $417 in U.S. dollars and the 405 Euros as humanitarian relief, advised the man as to the process to petition for the remaining currency, and released him.

[ . . . ]

“Customs and Border Protection officers offer travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report their currency, but those who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements face severe consequences, such as hefty penalties, having their currency seized, or potential criminal charges,” said Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “The easiest way to keep your currency is to truthfully report it.”

CBP officers assessed a $1,000 civil penalty to a second traveler, an Indian man who arrived Saturday from Germany after officers discovered $17,750 in U.S. dollars and 14,330 in Indian Rupees in his possession. The combined currency equated to$18,007 in U.S. dollars.

International travelers who arrive or depart the United States in possession of more than $10,000 or equivalent foreign currency are required to report all currency to CBP officers and complete a Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) form.

Do not decide how to respond to a CAFRA Notice without first consulting an attorney. Any mistake or error in judgment you make can cost you dearly. The Petition process is a legal process. The petition itself is and should always be a legal document, no different than in any other legal proceeding, that contains detailed factual narrative, what led to the seizure, a review of the relevant law, regulations and Custom’s own guidelines concerning the criteria for remission. When the facts allow for it, our Petition will always include a strong argument for return of the money in full, or even when there is a valid basis for the currency seizure, a strong argument for the money to be returned upon payment of a fine in the smallest amount of money possible, rather than forfeiture of all your money.

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

 

Baltimore Customs Seizes $16,000 in Unreported Money

Another currency seizure news release from Boston, which is reported here. As can be seen by the facts, the reason for the violation here was a misreport of the amount of currency being transported, which always includes all currency, whether U.S. or foreign, and also a concealment (i.e., smuggling) of another $6,200 wrapped in personal items.

Even though the couple was forthright in declaring $10,000 of their currency, all of the currency included the $10,000 was seized. This case is useful in presenting common issues concerning currency seizures, such as:

We have a lot more information on currency seizures that we make available on our Currency Seizure page and on this blog. Here are the facts in this case, as realted by CBP:

Baltimore — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) seized $16,000 yesterday from a Nigerian couple for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The passengers, who arrived to BWI from London and were destined for Essex, Md., repeatedly declared possessing only $10,000 and presented two envelopes to CBP officers containing the equivalent of $10,345 in U.S. and foreign currency. CBP officers explained the currency reporting requirements and again asked the couple if they were carrying any more currency or monetary instruments to which the passengers stated they were not. While examining the passenger’s luggage, CBP officers discovered another envelope wrapped in clothing that contained $6,200 bringing the total to $16,545.

If you have had your money seized by Customs, please contact our office today and speak to an attorney experienced in customs law and currency seizures by calling (734) 855-4999, or e-mail us through our contact page.

 

San Juan CBP Seizes $43,000 in Unreported Money

CBP reports on recent current seizures in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, in part stating:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $43,500 in unreported currency at the Luis Munoz Marin Airport last Wednesday, May 15, 2013, in two separate incidents.

While conducting outbound operations on a JetBlue flight destined to the Dominican Republic, a CBP K9 alerted to a passenger, who was then interviewed by CBP officers. During the interview, the passenger stated he was transporting $5,000. During his cbp_tapecarry-on inspection various bundles of currency were found hidden in different locations. A total of $21,378 in currency was found hidden, including inside his socks. The currency was seized.

Departing on the same flight, a different passenger was informed about the currency reporting procedures in his native Spanish language, and he stated that he was transporting $2,000. Examination of the passenger’s carry-on bag revealed additional bundles of U.S. currency, which were concealed inside his clothing. The passenger also failed to report around $9,000 concealed inside clothing on his checked luggage. The total amount of U.S. currency seized was $22,160.

(Emphasis added).

This is interesting because it demonstrates that the currency reporting law applies equally to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Moreover, it should be noted that the fact the the people in these cases hid the money inside articles of clothing will also give rise to additional grounds for seizure, beyond mere failure to file a report, of bulk cash smuggling by virtue of concealing it.
If you have had currency seized, please read our article about responding to a currency seizure to better inform yourself of the process. You should contact our office in order to discussion your legal matter further, the prospect of getting your money returned, potential penalties, and the types of evidence needed in order to get your money back. We can be reached at (734) 855-4999 or by the methods shown on our contact page, and are able to help get your money back no matter your location.

 

Baltimore CBP Seizes Over $11K in Unreported Money/Currency

A May15th news release from Customs & Border Protection details a recent money seizure in Baltimore. The release says that Customs officer’s seized $11,400 in unreported currency from a Ghanian man for failure to file a currency report. I will quote this one in full, and and providing my own commentary interspersed in bold below:

 

Baltimore – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) seized $11,400 Tuesday from a Ghanaian man for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The passenger, who arrived to BWI from London and was destined for Greenbelt, Md., repeatedly declared possessing only $9,500. While examining the passenger’s luggage, CBP officers discovered $11,661 in U.S. currency, and foreign currency with a domestic value of $768.

Three things here: First, Customs policy is to return foreign currency at the time of seizure.

Second, people do not realize that because of the way the laws are written, transporting less than $10,000, if done intentionally to evade the reporting requirement, can be a structuring violation and subject your money to seizure and you to criminal charges. 

Third, if you are bringing in more than $10,000, you can still get your money seized if you file a report and are unable to demonstrate legitimate source and legitimate intended use. Bank statements, tax returns, and travel plans are some thing that can be used to avoid seizure. For example, someone who’s taking $460,000 out of the country that is drug proceeds is not going to be able to keep the money just because he or she filed a report that they were transporting more than $10,000. That is why they try to smuggle the money in and out.

There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however, federal law requires travelers to report amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.

And as you can see, if Customs thinks that you are carrying more than you are telling them they can search you to find out.

CBP officers seized $11,400 and returned $261 in U.S. currency and all of the foreign currency to the passenger for humanitarian relief. CBP officers also advised the traveler how to petition for the return of his seized currency.

This is the petition process, discussed in our article on responding to a customs currency seizure. This is a petition that must be filed with Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures at the port once you have received a notice of seizure. Our office can prepare and file this document for you.

“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 Ricardo Scheller, CBP port director for the Port of Baltimore. “The traveler was given multiple opportunities to truthfully declare his currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”

As we previously discussed in a commentary, refusing to comply with the reporting requirement is not the only way to get your currency seized. But it certainly is one way.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999.

U.S. Customs Money Seizure of $460,000 in Smuggled Currency

CBP reports that a money smuggling attempt in Nogales, Arizona, was stopped. This story looks similar in dollar amount — $464,00 seized – amount as a money seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection near the Port of Laredo, which I blogged about here.

Us Customs 460k Smuggled Money Seizure
Picture of currency hidden in a nightstand.

This time, though, instead of the money apparently being hidden in the vehicle itself, it looks like it was hidden in a nightstand. Either way, hiding it is most likely going to result in a charge of smuggling, which is basiscally what bulk cash smuggling amounts to.  This resulted in a seizure of the vehicle and the money itself.

For more information on money seizures by U.S. Customs, the reporting requirements, structuring violations, bulk cash smuggling, and how to get seized currency back, please visit our page devoted to discussion of currency seizures, and also read these articles:

And of course, if you have had your money seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, do not delay and call our office immediately at (734) 855-4999! You can also fill out our form and we will contact you, or drop us an e-mail by visiting our Contact page.

U.S. Customs money seizure in Maine

The Bangor Daily News out of Maine reports on some noteworthy monetary instruments seizures in 2012 by U.S. Customs, including this one:

In one incident the agency highlighted, two Houlton Border Patrol agents seized $89,808 in U.S. currency, $10,440 in Western Union traveler’s checks and $200 in Canadian currency from two men from Canada.

The money was apparently was connected with:

. . . a telephone fraud scheme that preyed on the elderly. The scam involved the subjects advising the elderly of a grandchild or other relative desperately in need of money, and instructing them to wire funds. The victims were subsequently bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. US Canada Border Marker

[  . . . ] The $100,448 initially seized by Border Patrol agents was returned to 18 of the victims.

No mention of the exact legal basis under which the money was seized, or exactly how this fraud scheme became unraveled at the border. I suspect somebody was trying to smuggling the money of the country to evade detection, and taxes, when CBP made the discovery and began putting the puzzle pieces back together.

If you have had currency seized from Customs, do not go it alone. Get the advice of an attorney who knows what he is doing. If you do not, you might only make the situation worse by handling it on your own or hiring an inexperienced lawyer. You worked hard for your money, so be sure to protect it. If you have questions, please give us a call.

To further inform yourself, please read the various articles I have written on this and related topics. But do not let it replace the advice of attorney who is familiar with the law and your particular circumstances.

CBP seizes $460,060 in unreported currency

The Laredo Sun reports on a recent currency seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Laredo, Texas, from a 31 year U.S. citizen from Chicago who was transporting $460,060  as he attempted to drive across the border to Mexico. Something tipped the officers off as he left the U.S., and they pulled him and his vehicle aside for a secondary inspection to verify the amount of money being transported.

The money was apparently concealed in various parts of his vehicle. I can only imagine how long it took them to count it all out and the condition of the truck. If this individual is not prosecuted by the government for criminal violations, he faces the  potentially difficult task of proving a legitimate source and legitimate intended use of the money (not to mention fitting all the plastic interior trim pieces back like new).

car_crossingIn this case, we could give the man the benefit of the doubt and presume the legitimate source is the proceeds of a life insurance policy of a beloved family member; and the intended use, perhaps he was paying cash for a nice place on the Riveria Maya. That’s just my guess, and yes, I have handled stranger cases.

If we assume he proves these two things, then this situation is regrettable for him and completely avoidable. But now, even if criminal charges are ultimately not filed or if he is ultimately found not guilty of a crime, he will still face civil forfeiture of the money and, if he wants it back, will have to fight for its return administratively, or in the courts.

This news story gets a lot of things right about the currency seizure process because they note you can petition for the return of the currency and that the person transporting the unreported currency is subject to arrest for criminal violations.

That brings me to the next point:

If you have had currency seized from Customs, do not go it alone. Get the advice of an attorney who knows what he is doing. If you do not, you might only make the situation worse by handling it on your own or hiring a lawyer who doesn’t regularly handle these cases.

Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country; call (734) 855-4999 to consult with a customs lawyer today (you can read our popular page on Responding to a Customs Money Seizure HERE).If you have had money seized by Detroit CBP/customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page (see our case results here). We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles customs currency seizures:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures

Penalties for monetary reporting violations

Is it a crime to transport more than $10,000 without reporting it?

Yes, it is a crime to transport more than $10,000 without reporting it if you are entering or leaving the United States. There are both criminal and civil penalties for failing not report carrying more than $10,000, but not everyone is charged with a crime. A person can be charged criminally or just be responsible for a civil violation, as well as forfeiture of your monetary instruments.

What are the criminal penalties for not reporting more than $10,000?

The criminal penalties for not reporting more than $10,000, or omitting or misstating a material fact in a report potentially brings with it criminal penalties. That includes, depending on the severity of the violation, a fine ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 and/or prison time from 5 to 10years.

What are the civil penalties for not reporting more than $10,000?

The civil penalties for not reporting more than $10,000 is a fine of not “more than the amount of the monetary instrument for which the report was required.” Any civil penalty assessed for a violation of failing to report currency at the border is reduced by the amount of money that was forfeited (forfeiture is a permanent loss of the money to the government).

What are the penalties for structuring a transaction to avoid filing a currency report?

The penalties for structuring a transaction is avoid filing a currency report are similar. The relevant law makes it illegal, when importing or exporting more than $10,000 in monetary instruments,  to:

(1) fail to file a report . . . , or cause or attempt to cause a person to fail to file such a report;
(2) file or cause or attempt to cause a person to file a report required . . . that contains a material omission or misstatement of fact; or
(3) structure or assist in structuring, or attempt to structure or assist in structuring, any importation or exportation of monetary instruments.

If structure cash in any of these ways you could be be fined and/or imprisoned for no more 5 years. There are additional, higher penalties when done as “a pattern of any illegal activity involving more than $100,000 in a 12-month period.

In addition to the criminal penalties for structuring cash there are also civil penalties. 31 USC 5321. The amount of the civil penalty will not be greater than the amount involved in the transaction, and that amount shall be reduced by the amount of any monetary instruments forfeited.

Will a civil penalty for a cash reporting violation stay on my record?

IA civil penalty for a cash reporting violation will not stay on your record for most purposes. That is, if you’re not criminally charged then the only people who will ever be able to find out this happened is the government agencies who have access to your travel record. Customs will always have a record when you cross the border that you were transporting currency and failed to file a report. This will, in all likelihood, mean that you will at some point while crossing the border be questioned about whether or not you have currency or have your baggage examined. There is nothing that can be done to avoid that, except if it becomes unfair you can file a complaint through the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).

If you are not criminally charged you will not have a criminal record.

Questions about a customs cash seizure?

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website like 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.