When Customs or Homeland Security wants to discuss your Customs currency seizure case with you after filing a petition, by telephone or in person, including the contents of your petition, the sources of the money, or intended uses of the money… DECLINE. The scenario:
You foolishly decided to file your petition for remission of forfeiture for your seized currency without hiring a lawyer because you didn’t read our article about currency seizures. A few weeks has passed and you haven’t heard anything. On a quiet day you get a call from a blocked phone number, out of curiousity you answer it. The caller says:
“This is Special Agent Johnny Customs from Homeland Security Investiations. Is this the person who filed a petition for seizure of currency in Case Number 2015-3807-0000005-01?”
“Yes,” you answer, shocked.
“I’d like to ask you some questions about your petition.”
Upon hearing it, you panic. Hopefully you don’t say anything stupid or that can be interpreted as suspicious. This is a very real situation and a common occurrence.
Politely decline to speak with them. Then keep calm, and immediately contact your Customs Attorney.
The reason is as old as the hills: never talk to law enforcement. It can only go badly for you. Even though Customs is not your local police officer or the FBI, U.S. Customs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations agents and officers are all the same; they are police. The same goes for a paralegal specialist. If you don’t believe us then watch this YouTube video called “Don’t Talk to Police“. You might be really motivated to talk because you want your money back. But the guy who wants to interview you really does not want to give it back. The system is adversarial and any interview will be designed to work against you.
The request for an interview has happened when our law firm has filed petitions for returned of seized currency and the petition is referred to Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation or “technical review” (a topic we briefly discussed in our article about the length of time it takes Customs to decide a petition). I consider these interview requests a scare tactic to convince the petitioner to abandon the seized currency. I have had a homeland security agent try to bully me into producing my client for an interview and threaten that if my client did not abandon the currency, they would conduct a full-scale financial investigation, and involve the Homeland Security attache’s office in the country where the money came from. No one wants to believe that about their government or their country but there is no other way to interpret it other than bullying.
A good petition to retrieve seized currency gives Customs everything necessary in writing. Consequently, there is ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON to participate in a telephone or sit-down, face-to-face interview, and talk about where the money came from, what was its intended use, or the events that led to the seizure (like the failure to report). The interview is designed to make you uncomfortable, intimidate you, uncover incriminating facts, or give Customs enough information deny your petition to get the money back.
If you have been contacted by Homeland Security Investigations and they have asked to interview you, 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:
- Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
- Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
- Structuring currency imports and exports
- Is it $10,000 per person? Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
- Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
- Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
- Responding to a Customs currency seizure
- How do I get my seized money back?
- Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
- How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
- Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
- Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
- Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case
- Understanding CBP’s Election of Proceedings Form