Tag: fine

Customs Seizure & Penalties for Fake & Faulty Hairdryers

Many fail to grasp the importance of customs seizing¬†counterfeit merchandise. The reason might be a failure¬†see the harm that it causes to the owner of the trademark, by confusing their purchasers¬†and destroying a reputation for quality. Another reason might be because they never got scammed into buying a product at full price… only to find out it is a worthless counterfeit. But sometimes counterfeits are dangerous. ¬†Like electronics with a fake testing laboratory certifications, or those¬†missing legally required safety features. The story that follows perfectly demonstrates the reasons¬†why customs seizes counterfeits and often penalizes people who import them (original HERE):

HOUSTON ‚Äď U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized nearly 5,000 hair dryers as the required Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters that

Images from Seizure

protect consumers from electrical shock or electrocution hazards were missing. The hair dryers, which originated from China, have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of almost $330,000. “This seizure is the latest example of the vigilance and attention to detail our officers pay to protect consumers from imported goods

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that pose a dangerous risk,‚ÄĚ said CBP Houston Area Port Director Dave Fluty. During an examination of the shipment, officers found the dryers missing the immersion protection plug and bearing a suspect trademark logo. Officers coordinated with Consumer Product Safety Commission and with the CBP Intellectual Property Rights Rights [sic] Branch, Regulations and Rulings, Office of International Trade to verify authenticity. The CBP IPR Branch confirmed the products were counterfeit, and a CPSC evaluation of product samples concluded the required immersion protection plug was missing resulting in the seizure of the entire shipment that contained more than 400 boxes of the faulty articles. According to CPSC, consumers should look for a large, rectangular-shaped plug at the end of the hair dryer cord indicating the presence of a GFCI. The certification mark of a recognized testing laboratory should also be visible on the hair dryer or on the hair dryer’s packaging.

The individual who caused the importation is now liable to customs for penalties for 1) importing counterfeits into the United States under 19 USC 1526 and 2) importations contrary to law under 19 USC 1595a, because there was no GFCI on the hairdryers. It will prove to be a costly mistake. As we have previously explained, the penalties for the trademark violation are equivalent to the MSRP of genuine articles, or in this case almost $330,000; the penalties for importations contrary to law is equivalent to the domestic value of the imported merchandise, which is likely far less than the $330,000 figure and equivalent to, more or less, the price actually paid for the merchandise. I am sure any penalty in this case will be for at least $330,000.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit trademarked merchandise or for importations contrary to law. We can help. You can pay the penalty or, as we recommend, file a petition for mitigation to ask for a reduction in the penalty. Once the notice of penalty is sent, the recipient has either 30 days to pay the penalty or file a detailed petition arguing the legal bases for further mitigation (reduction) or cancellation of the penalty. We recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).

If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

 

Counterfeit Sunglasses Seized by Customs

Customs made another high value seizure of counterfeit merchandise being imported into the United States with infringing trademarks under 19 USC 1526. Customs seized 377 cartons of “Ron-Bei” sunglasses that they allege infringe the “Ray-Ban” trademark. This would be a good seizure and penalty case for our customs lawyer to defend, because it’s arguable whether the goods are counterfeit. The manufacturer’s suggest retail price, if the counterfeits were genuine, is $1,619.550. That is what the penalty amount will be calculated from.

We previously discussed, in a two article series, the dangers of importing counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States, how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and how the importer can defend it. This story underscores the importance of everything we discussed in those articles:¬†Importing Counterfeit Trademarks ‚Äď Customs Seizures & Penalties;¬†Part 1¬†and¬†Part 2¬†¬†(click to read).¬†

Let’s have a look at the story (original HERE):

Counterfeit Sunglasses Seized By Customs
Counterfeit sunglasses with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,619,550 seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of Savannah.

CBP officers discovered the shipment of sunglasses in a container that was selected for examination. During the inspection, officers discovered that the items bore a similar trademark to the Ray Ban Sunglasses logo. The items contained logos and similarities on the hang tags and the sunglasses that infringes Ray Ban’s trademark.

Ray Ban is an international company owned by Luxottica Group S.P.A. Luxottica Group is a manufacturer of eyewear with more than 7,100 optical and sun retail stores in North America, Asia-Pacific, China, South Africa, Latin America and Europe. In addition to a global wholesale network involving 130 different countries, the Group manages leading retail chains in major markets in North America, Asia, China, and Latin America.

CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods. Detailed information about recording intellectual property rights and reporting intellectual property infringement to CBP can be found on the CBP website.

Whoever wrote up this news release for customs should get a little money from Ray Ban for the free product pitch in the middle paragraph. Importing counterfeit items into the United States is a very serious matter. First, it is very likely that after seizure the property will be forfeited and destroyed by the U.S. government if, in fact, they are violative of the trademark laws.

Once forfeiture is perfected, the person who caused the importation will probably get a notice of penalty from U.S. Custom & Border Protection in the mail for the equivalent of the value of the products¬†if they were real. The importer¬†will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for.¬†Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely.¬†If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government can bring a lawsuit in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

Customs Counterfeit Seizures; Counterfeit Guitars

Back in May, Customs made a large seizure of counterfeit guitars in Jersey City. We previously discussed, in a two article series, the dangers of importing counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States; how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and how the importer can defend it. It also happens that this story deals with false country of origin marking on imported merchandise.

This story underscores the importance of everything we discussed in those articles: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks ‚Äď Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2¬†and Importing Grey Market Goods¬†(click to read). You should also review the articles we have published on country of origin marking, available Country of Origin Marking Requirements¬†and Customs Country of Origin and Substantial Transformation.¬†The story is below, with my emphasis in bold:

Jersey City, N.J. ‚Äď U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the International and Counterfeit guitars seized in Jersey CityBulk Mail Center in Jersey City, N.J. discovered more than 185 counterfeit guitars with an estimated retail value of more than $1,000,000.

While examining oversize parcels, CBP officers discovered five guitars bearing the Gibson, Les Paul, Paul Reed Smith, and Martin trademarks, as well as the marking ‚ÄúMade in USA.‚Ä̬† The officers immediately suspected the guitars of being counterfeit based on the Counterfeit Guitar Seizurescountry of origin, poor craftsmanship, and packaging.

CBP has since identified more than 180 counterfeit guitars bearing additional trademarks of Epiphone, Fender, Taylor, and Ernie Ball‚ÄĒall being shipped through the same facility. Officers discovered business cards within the packaging, all referring to the same website. The¬†website indicated these guitars could be purchased from China for about $200 to $500; but the manufacturer‚Äôs suggested retail price for authentic guitars range anywhere from $2,000 for basic models to $54,000 for signature models. The guitars were seized by officers and are scheduled for destruction.

‚ÄúCBP is on the forefront of protecting the American economy and trademark holders. Counterfeit goods pose a serious threat to the consumer and economic loss to American business,‚ÄĚ said Robert E. Perez, director of CBP‚Äôs New York Field Operations. ‚ÄúEnforcing intellectual property rights (IPR) remains a priority for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.‚ÄĚ

CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program.

Information about internet purchases is available. Additional information on CBP’s IPR enforcement efforts can be found at CBP IPR.

Notice how the false country of origin marking may have raised the suspicions of customs and caused them to investigate the legitimacy of trademark further. Trouble never travels alone. You should read about your liability for customs violations for things you purchase on the Internet.

If you have merchandise seized by customs and either lose your opportunity to get the merchandise back, abandon the merchandise, or ignore the notice of seizure, it may not be the end of trouble for the importer. In general, customs has the authority to fine or penalize anyone who violates the laws enforced by customs. This means that, weeks or months after the property is seized and forfeited, you may get notice of penalty in the mail from customs that demands payment of thousands of dollars in penalties! It could also mean you get a letter from the trademark holder threatening you with further legal action.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

Importing Counterfeit Trademarks ‚Äď Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 2

Importing counterfeit merchandise into into the United States is not only illegal, but is something that U.S. Customs & Border Protection takes very seriously. Intercepting counterfeits is considered it to be a priority trade enforcement issue. For truly counterfeit imported merchandise, there are few opportunities to get the seizure remitted (to get the merchandise back from customs), and so it is forfeited (becomes property of the government). We discussed this Part I of Importing Counterfeit Trademarks РCustoms Seizures & Penalties. But, forfeiture is often just the beginning of the story, because customs can and does penalize people for importing counterfeit merchandise.

When does customs issue a notice of penalty for importing counterfeits?

As matter of policy, customs issues a penalty when 3 criteria are met:

  1. The counterfeit mark is registered with the Patent and Trademark Office
  2. The counterfeit mark recorded with U.S. Customs & Border Protection
  3. The importer has no consent from the trademark holder to import the counterfeits

In all other situations, customs has the authority to issue a penalty, but may or may not, even if the merchandise is seized. It depends on the individual circumstances of the case.

What is a notice of penalty and who is liable?

The notice of penalty is sent from the¬†Fines, Penalties & Forfeiture’s Office of U.S. Custom & Border Protection through the U.S. mail, usually certified. The notice of penalty is typically a 1 to 2 page document, that states what law or laws or regulations were allegedly¬†violated, and based on the violation, it demands payment of a certain dollar amount.

The importer and anyone who causes, directs, or assists the importation (financially or otherwise) is liable to get the notice of penalty.

How is the penalty amount determined?

The penalty dollar amount is usually based on the maximum amount that customs can levy under the law for counterfeit violations; they are¬†are not based on the price actually¬†paid for the goods, but on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price¬†(“MSRP”)¬†of¬†the goods if they were¬†genuine:

  • 1st Offense:¬†the penalty is equal to up to the MSRP¬†of genuine goods
  • 2nd (or more) Offense: the penalty is equal to twice the MSRP¬†of genuine goods

For example, if you are importing counterfeit jeans that cost $5 each, but which have a MSRP for genuine jeans of  $95, customs customs uses the $95 price in its calculation. In this example, if 100 pairs of jeans were imported, the penalty for a 1st offense is up to $9,500 (not $500). For a 2nd offense, the penalty is up to $19,000 (not $500 or $1,00).

Does customs ever reduce a penalty?

You can pay the penalty or, as we recommend, file a petition for mitigation to ask for a reduction in the penalty. Once the notice of penalty is sent, the recipient has either 30 days to pay the penalty or file a detailed petition arguing the legal bases for further mitigation (reduction) or cancellation of the penalty. We recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).

A failure to pay the penalty, or the mitigated penalty, will result in the referral of the matter for collection through the U.S. attorney. Customs may sue the importer or the person providing assistance in federal court and get a judgment against them. This allows the government to lien property, garnish assets and bank accounts, and seize property to satisfy the judgment.

Obviously, the best course of action is to file a petition, get a reduced penalty, and pay it.

Is there a way to reduce the penalty from customs?

Keep Calm Petition MemeYes, if a properly argued petition with factual and legal support is presented to customs, it is possible for a penalty reduction of anywhere from 10% to 30% for a first or second offense. There would have to mitigating and no aggravating factors to achieve that result.

A standard disposition with aggravating factors, or for a third offense, may still garner a reduction of 50% to 80%, if a properly argued petition with factual and legal support is presented to customs.

It is possible, and our law firm has been able to obtain complete cancellation of the penalty even in cases where there are still grounds for a technical violation of the law (some history of our success is HERE). Of course, results will vary from case to case, and no result could be guaranteed. Customs has maintains a list of mitigating factors and aggravating factors that it looks for, and which should part of the argument and analysis of any petition that is filed for them; without a careful and thoughtful analysis of those factors that customs looks for, you may end up pay more than necessary.

If you have had your merchandise seized or have received a notice of penalty from customs, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer about the possibility of getting your penalty reduced, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions and in penalty cases by customs nationwide.

Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1

Often, people and businesses can knowingly or unknowingly import counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States. The majority of these types of importations we encounter for clients are Internet purchases from China, such as purses, videos/DVDs, guitars, clothing,  electronics and accessories, but they can really be any type of product and from any country. Sometimes people know the merchandise is counterfeit but other times they do not have any suspicion, or in some circumstances truly know that what they are importing is not counterfeit. Even if ignorant about the merchandise being counterfeit, if it really is counterfeit then the property is still subject to seizure and forfeiture by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

What is a counterfeit or trademark violation?

Counterfeit merchandise is merchandise that “bears a trade-mark owned by [someone in] the United States, and registered in the . . . [Patent and Trademark Office].” The counterfeit mark can be on the “merchandise, or the label, sign, print, package, wrapper, or receptacle” itself. 19 USC 1526(a). A counterfeit mark is a spurious trademark that is identical to, or substantially indistinguishable from, a registered trademark. 19 CFR 133.21(a). If you do not have permission of the trademark owner to import the merchandise, it’s illegal to import it.

Because the counterfeit merchandise is illegal, it is subject to seizure and forfeiture by U.S. Customs & Border Protection under most circumstances (usually it must also be recorded with CBP per 19 CFR 133.21(b)). 19 USC 1526(b) and (e). This means that customs can take the suspected counterfeit merchandise and destroy it, or if they can obliterate the counterfeit marks and get the consent of the trademark owner, then customs can give it to charity, give it to a government agency for its own use, or sell it at public auction.

Is it possible to get the seized merchandise released?

Before customs can destroy the counterfeit/trademark violations, give it away, or sell it, they must first give the importer a chance to respond. Since October 2015, at the time of detention or even after seizure, the importer has a right to request samples of seized merchandise from CBP. After merchandise is seized, Customs through its Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures (FP&F) office, will send a “notice of seizure” of the counterfeit merchandise to the importer of record. The importer then has several options, among those are the ability to file a petition for remission of forfeiture with FP&F. In this petition,¬†the importer has opportunity to demonstrate that there are no counterfeit/trademark violations involved with the import of the merchandise.

Alternatively, the importer could argue in the petition for remission to customs that some exception to seizure and forfeiture applies. If the importer can prove that the goods are not counterfeit, then the seizure would be remitted and the merchandise released to the custody of the importer. A similar result is possible in certain other circumstances, like if they are permitted genuine, gray market goods, or are for personal use and accompanying a traveler entering the U.S., or if the trademark owner consents to the importation and the counterfeit marks are destroyed.

My merchandise was seized and forfeited as counterfeit. Am I in any other trouble?

If you have merchandise seized by customs and either lose your opportunity to get the merchandise back, abandon the merchandise, or ignore the notice of seizure, it may not be the end of trouble for the importer. In general, customs has the authority to fine or penalize anyone who violates the laws enforced by customs. This means that, weeks or months after the property is seized and forfeited, you may get notice of penalty in the mail from customs that demands payment of thousands of dollars in penalties! It could also mean you get a letter from the trademark holder threatening you with further legal action.

In Part 2 of this series, we discuss when and how customs can assess a monetary penalty after the counterfeit property is seized and forfeited.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

CBP at JFK Seizes Cocaine in Meat

Customs seized over 7lbs of cocaine from a man who apparently tried to smuggle it into the United States by hiding it in frozen chunks of meat from Trinidad. If CBP published statistics on stupid smuggling attempts that are bound to fail, this would go down as one of the stupidest smuggling attempts of the year.

Why is it so stupid? Because it is basically impossible to import meat into the United States without getting advance permission from either the FDA, USDA, or both — more on those restrictions HERE. Put simply, the problem is that the smuggler basically tried to hide something illegal in something that was illegal; typical smuggling attempts have people hiding illegal merchandise in or around perfectly legal merchandise.

Not only was this poorly planned for that reason, but who could ever doubt that a dog – trained for smelling both the presence of meat and narcotics – would not alert to cocaine wrapped in juicy chunks of meat? I mean, take a look at the picture below.

JAMAICA, N.Y. ‚ÄĒ An arriving passenger at John F. Kennedy International Airport had a different kind of ‚Äėbeef‚Äô when encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers.Meat seized by CBP also contained cocaine

On March 20, CBP officers stopped Mr. Yudishtir Maharaj who was arriving on a flight from Port of Spain, Trinidad. During the course of the inspection CBP officers discovered three large
CBP at JFK Seizes Cocaine in Meatpackages of frozen meat within his luggage. When probed, the frozen packages of meat produced a white powder that tested positive for cocaine. Mr. Maharaj was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations. The total weight of cocaine seized is approximately 7.35 lbs.

‚ÄúThis latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances,‚ÄĚ said Robert E. Perez, Director, Field Operations New York.

Mr. Maharaj now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York.

All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.

I do not represent narcotics smugglers, but a lot of innocent people and people acting in good faith or from a position of ignorance get their property seized by customs all the time. If you have had merchandise, property, orcash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, and many other places, and not just locally.

Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizure

How does customs target people for money seizures?

There are certain groups of people who are more likely to be transporting large amounts of money through airport customs.¬†For example, people who come from largely cash based economies and people who for cultural reasons, do not trust banks or prefer to pay with and keep cash on hand.¬†Walking around with more than $10,000 in cash is hard for a lot of Americans to understand because credit is easy and¬†we are notoriously bad savers.¬†I suspect many American’s would not think twice about having a $10,000 balance on their credit card, but those same people would be shocked to hear about someone walking around with $10,000 in cash.

Another example of people who are more likely to be transporting large amounts of money through customs are those travelling to the U.S. for an extended vacation or are staying for a long time to attend a university, work an internship, or immigrate from China, Korea, Iran or Indonesia, for example, and make a permanent residence in the United States . They might be carrying money with them to pay for tuition (which usually cannot be paid by credit card), books, expenses related to renting an apartment, buying car, purchasing health insurance, etc.

Why does customs target certain groups for money seizures?

From the perspective of customs, targeted enforcement of the more than $10,000 currency reporting requirement makes sense and any diligent customs officer who wants to make sure the currency reporting laws are enforced is going to target certain people de-planing from flights from certain countries or parts of the world.

Extended vacationers are easy to target by customs. Customs may review your itinerary (e.g., one way or return flight) and ask about the purpose of your visit to the United States. So when a customs officer asks, “How long are you staying in the United States?” and the response is, “A month,” one of the next few questions likely to be asked is going be, “And so how much money are you travelling with?” If you look nervous, or if they just do not believe you, there are likely going to search you and your luggage in a secondary inspection to verify whatever you tell them about how much money you are transporting.

What’s an example of a group targeted by customs for currency reporting purposes?

The Chinese New Year is coming up (1/31 to 2/6) and traditionally, Chinese people visit relatives and give cash gifts in red envelopes, called hongbao, during this holiday. You can read more about

Red Envelope (hongbao) Customs Money Seizure
Cash Filled Hongbao – Red Envelopes

this interesting cultural practice at Wikipedia.¬†Chinese people living in the United States also celebrate the Chinese New Year.¬†Chinese nationals travel to the United States to visit their family living here and bring with them hongbao red envelopes stuffed with cash from relatives back in China. It might be in certain “lucky” denominations, it might be for a wedding, a new baby, or just to help a young family out.

As a result, Customs might target flights from China for enhanced enforcement of the currency reporting requirement near and during the Chinese New Year and seize money for failure to report, bulk cash smuggling, or structuring violations (multiple red envelopes being transported on behalf of multiple relatives). Chinese nationals coming to the United States during the Chinese New year celebrations are probably going to be targeted by customs to make sure that they are reporting any amount over $10,000 in currency they are transporting into the United States, or if they fail to report, customs will seize their money and tell them to file a petition to get it back.

Customs seized my money! What do I do now?

If you have had money seized by customs please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  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. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?

 

Customs in Philadelphia Seizes Money for Violation of Currency Reporting Laws

A customs news release relates the tale of two travelers who had their money seized by customs at the airport for a failure to report the currency they were transporting. As you will read, the father and son were travelling together and therefore customs lumped the currency each of them were carrying together. The story does not explain how much cash was found on each person individually, but it could have a bearing on whether or not seizure was proper and even if it was, it could affect the penalty that is owed through the customs mitigation guidelines for currency seizures.

This story raises questions in my mind of structuring and who needs to make the report when more than one person is transporting more than $10,000 across the border. I would not be surprised if customs also alleges a structuring violation in the CAFRA notice of seizure document. These folks should hire a customs lawyer to help them get their seized currency back from customs. On to the story:

(Tuesday, December 31, 2013)¬†Philadelphia ‚Äď An Israeli father and son learned a very difficult lesson Friday at Philadelphia International Airport after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $27,648 that they failed to truthfully report to officers.

The two men, who arrived from Cancun, Mexico, repeatedly reported to CBP officers that they possessed about $6,000. CBP officers conducted a currency verification and determined that the pair were in possession of $19,020 in U.S. dollars and 5,850 in Israeli shekels for a combined total of $27,648 in U.S. or equivalent foreign currency. [EDITOR’S¬†NOTE: The currency reporting requirement applies to US and foreign currency. Foreign currency is counted in USD at the prevailing exchange rate, so you have to be careful].

Neither man was criminally charged. [EDITOR’S¬†NOTE: This is a civil customs money seizure so they can file a petition to try to get get their money back.] CBP officers seized the currency and released both men to continue their visit.

There is no limit to how much currency that travelers can bring into, or take out of the United States. Travelers are required to formally report amounts of $10,000 or more ¬†in U.S. dollars, equivalent foreign currency, or other monetary instruments.¬†[EDITOR’S¬†NOTE:¬† This is, like many news releases, incorrect. The reporting requirement is only for¬†more than¬†$10,000 U.S., equivalent, or other instruments]

‚ÄúCBP derives no great pleasure from seizing travelers‚Äô currency. However, there are consequences for failing to comply with U.S. currency reporting laws,‚ÄĚ said Tarance Drafts, acting CBP port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. ‚ÄúWe hope that all travelers are honest with CBP officers and truthfully declare currency or other things that they are bringing to the U.S.‚ÄĚ

Privacy laws prohibit CBP from releasing names as neither subject was criminally charged.

CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international passengers and cargo, and searches for terrorist weapons, illicit narcotics, unreported currency, counterfeit merchandise, and prohibited agriculture and other products.

Too bad for these folks, but they can act quickly, hire a customs lawyer, and respond appropriately to try to get their money released. 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 or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles:

  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. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?

Customs Seizes $35,018 in Currency

Customs has released another¬†customs money seizure news release¬†about¬†some unreported and concealed money that was being taken from the U.S. to Mexico. Because the money was 1) not reported and 2) concealed, it can be seized for both failing to file a report and for concealing money with the intention to evade the reporting requirement. What the release particularly notes and what I want to draw attention to is that the vehicle was seized — a “conveyance” (here, the vehicle) can be seized because it was involved in a smuggling attempt, because it was outfitted for the purposes of smuggling, and/or because it was used to aid an importation contrary to law.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Calexico downtown port of entry Thursday . . . and intercepted $35,018 in unreported U.S. currency . . . . The . . . incident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. on Nov. 14, when CBP officers were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Calexico downtown port of entry. Officers targeted a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and referred the driver, a 30-year-old male, and vehicle for a more in-depth examination. During an intensive inspection that included an alert from a currency and firearms detector dog and use of the port’s imaging system, officers discovered two wrapped packages of U.S. currency concealed inside the center console between the vehicle’s front seats.

The report goes on to to state the the vehicle and currency were seized, and to note that it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements.

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 or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles:

  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. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?

CBP Seizes $30,007 in Unreported Currency

The pace of customs currency seizure news releases has declined since the government shutdown, but today Customs released some details on a recent currency seizure at sea. This is different than a lot of currency seizure stories posted here¬†which usually happen in airports or at land border crossings. Let’s look at the details, with my emphasis in bold and my comments in brackets:

San Juan, Puerto Rico ‚ÄĒ U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $30,007 in unreported currency last Friday from a passenger departing on board the M/V Caribbean Fantasy Ferry destined to Santo Domingo, DR. The seizure occurred during routine outbound examination of passengers at the Pan American Dock West in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dennis Mota-Rodriguez, 50, resident of San Juan, failed to accurately declare having in his possession more than $10,000 [Editor’s note: read about the reporting requirement HERE]. CBP officers conducted further examination of Mota and his belongings and discovered money concealed within a book agenda, hidden within clothing in his checked luggage and wrapped on his person, held by a girdle. [Editor’s note: any concealment, whether in luggage, backpack, etc., so long as it is done with an intent to evade the reporting requirement can be a violation of the¬†bulk cash smugglinglaws].

The currency was seized under bulk cash smuggling¬†laws. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested Mota-Rodriguez and will proceed with an investigation. [Editor’s note: That’s right, Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnailsome individuals are charged with criminal, and not just civil, violations of the law.]

‚ÄúTransportation of currency is not illegal. However, if carrying more than $10,000 through our borders, the currency must be reported to CBP,‚ÄĚ said Juan Hurtado, San Juan area port director. ‚ÄúTravelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges.‚ÄĚ

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the United States. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP. Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest. [Editor’s note: technically this is wrong, the reporting requirement is triggered if the amount is more than $10,000, not $10,000 “or higher”].

In addition to currency interdiction, CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts narcotics, weapons, prohibited agriculture products and other illicit items.

If this guy wasn’t up to anything illegal, then this was totally avoidable. He would have had to file the currency report, and demonstrate a lawful source for the money and lawful intended use. But he could have taken it with him had he only not hid the money and given Customs what they needed. In myopinion, though, sometimes Customs gets a little overzealous or unfair in their enforcement; however, I think the vast majority of customs officers do their job well. 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 or call our office at¬†(734) 855-4999¬†to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our¬†contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles:

  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. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?