Tag: failure to report

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.