Tag: ohare airport

Seized cash in sealed shirt bags

CBP Chicago Seizes $107k Cash

Finally, a customs cash seizure in Chicago has made the news! This story involved over $100,000 being taken out of the country and into Jordan. The story states that at least part of the $107,360 was concealed in “several sealed shirt bags” which then prompted the individual to declare $107,000. Our Chicago office sees a few cash seizure cases each year.

Interestingly, the story states that it was seized because the passenger “failed to properly report” the cash — but they do not state that it was seized for bulk cash smuggling. Based on the explanation in the story, I would expect it to also be seized for bulk cash smuggling violations — which could mean a loss of 50% of the money by the individual even if they can prove it came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use.

CHICAGO—On April 11, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers assigned to O’Hare International Airport intercepted one male subject concealing $107,360 during an Outbound Enforcement Operation.The passenger was traveling alone on his way to Jordan. When asked, the passenger gave a currency declaration for monetary instruments in the amount of $20,000. However, during inspection of the subject’s carryon baggage, several sealed shirt bags were found and inspected revealing numerous bundles of $100 bills. When CBP Officers found the concealed currency, the subject stated he actually had $107,000.

CBP seized the money because the passenger failed to properly report he was traveling outside of the United States with more than $10,000 as required by 31 USC § 5316.

Has CBP Chicago Seized Your Cash?

If CBP Chicago seized your cash at Chicago O’Hare Airport or Midway airport, you should give us a call for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of our free customs cash seizure legal guide.

An image of cash lined within the pages of magazines seized by Chicago CBP at O'Hare airport

$150k Seized at O’Hare Airport by Chicago CBP

Since we opened up our Chicago office to help people who have had cash seized at O’Hare Airport by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, we’ve had little in the way of CBP news releases about currency seizures there. But, I remembered seeing a story about some cash seized for bulk cash smuggling and failure to report at O’Hare back in 2011.

I remembered it because it involved more than $125,000 that was hidden in various parts of a family’s luggage and personal effects they were traveling with; like money hidden within the pages of books, magazines, and photo albums… here’s the full story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound enforcement operations at Chicago O’Hare International Airport seized $125,849 in bulk U.S. currency on March 1.

Among other passenger, CBP officers selected a family, traveling to Pakistan onboard Etihad Airlines, for an outbound currency verification examination. Prior to departure, CBP officers explained the currency reporting requirements and the husband declared the family was departing with only $17,000. Subsequently, a full baggage examination was conducted after a routine inspection revealed over $35,000 in his carry-on bag.

During the CBP examination, currency was discovered concealed in several locations including $5,200 in the pages of a magazine, $19,300 hidden behind pictures in a photo album and $4,500 in a pair of children’s pants. Currency was located in all carry-on baggage belonging to the family with an additional $7,800 found in their checked bags. The total amount of undeclared currency seized was $125,849.

“Everywhere the officers looked they kept discovering more concealed currency,” said Janice Adams, CBP acting director of field operations in Chicago. “Money was hidden in every conceivable location. This is an outstanding seizure by our CBP officers working outbound operations at Chicago O’Hare.”

This, my friends, is more than a failure to report; it is bulk cash smuggling. In other words, it was the intentional concealment of the cash for the purpose of not having to report the cash to CBP in Chicago. Bulk cash smuggling has much higher rate of forfeiture than a “simple” failure to report. Anyone who has had money seized for bulk cash smuggling should give us a call for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of our free customs cash seizure legal guide.

If you have had cash seized at Chicago O’Hare Airport or Midway airport, give our customs attorney a call at (773) 920-1840, or click the contact buttons on this page to send us an e-mail or request a call back.

A Cash Seizure at O'Hare Airport Chicago is pictured in this Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit

Cash Seizure at O’Hare Airport in June 3 Notice

A cash seizure at O’Hare Airport in Chicago was recently published for administrative forfeiture by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. As said, the seizure ocurred at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and the reasons for seizure were a failure to report cash to CBP at O’Hare airport and bulk cash smuggling.

A decision timeline at CBP in Chicago on a currency seizure petition typically takes anywhere from 6 to 18 months, depending on which paralegal is handling the case and the issues raised in the petition and the supporting documentation. Thus, the fact that this cash seizure occurred on March 12, 2016, at O’Hare airport tells me that either someone did not receive the personal notice of seizure letter, they have chosen not to respond to it, their petition was legally defective, or they have (or will soon) file a claim.

A claim removes the case from CBP and brings it before a judge in Federal District Court. Our Chicago customs law office is located conveniently within a few blocks of both CBP’s Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures branch and the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

When is better to file a claim with CBP and not an administrative petition? That is a question that should only be answered after consulting with a customs lawyer experienced in getting cash seizures returned from CBP because each case is a little different. We wrote about that issue a little bit in our article called Understanding CBP’s Election of Proceedings Form.

The excerpt from forfeiture.gov is reproduced, in part, below:


June 03, 2016
July 02, 2016
August 02, 2016

2016390100060801-001-0000, Seized on 03/12/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 1,331; EA; Valued at $42,440.00; For violation of 31USC5317(C), 31USC5316, 31USC5332

Have you had a cash seizure at O’Hare Airport Chicago?

If you experienced a cash seizure at O’Hare Airport Chicago 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.

Picture of what the cash seized at Dulles airport looked similar to.

CBP Cash Seizure Trends Change

CBP cash seizure trends change over the years. For example, a recent money seizure at Dulles Airport tells me that Dulles CBP seems to be ramping up enforcement of the currency reporting requirement. As with the most recent stories we’ve put up on this customs law blog, this story likewise involves person traveling to Africa — a report of $18,000 was made, but the amount he transported actually was $28,518.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized $28,518 Monday from a U.S. citizen for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

A man, who is a resident of Georgia, was boarding a flight to Ethiopia and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on the international flight.  The man completed a financial form, reporting $18,000 however; a total of $28,518 was discovered on his person and in his luggage.  CBP officers seized the $28,518 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.

The fact that many cash seizures at Dulles have occurred to people traveling to and from Africa is interesting (to us, anyway); because as populations shift, market demands change, airlines change routes, add new destinations, or go in-and-out of business, so to do enforcement opportunities by CBP.

With an improving African economy, more cash goes to and from the country. What is true now about people traveling to Africa was not true in the 1970s, and may not be true in the 2030s. Enforcement may shift with shifting immigrant populations. For example, if China’s economy is on the brink of collapse, Chinese nationals are going to try to get their cash out of the country. That means heightened cash seizure opportunities by CBP at every international airport where those flights will land.

For example, a few years back there was a big spike in cash seizures from Mongolians at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The reason for the cash seizure trend changing was was an improving Mongolian economy and convenient flights between Chicago O’Hare International airport and Ulaanbataar, Mongolia.

You should go back and read our blog posts about Chinese importing money into the United States and our popular article about targeted enforcement of customs money seizures for more information on this phenomenon.

Keep Calm and Declare Monetary Instruments Exceeding $10,000 USD

CBP Seizes $48K Cash at Philly International Airport

Another day, another currency seizure by U.S. Customs & Border Protection at this nation’s border crossing and airports from an international traveler. This time, the story occurs at Philly International Airport (PHL) but a currency seizure could just as easily happen anywhere.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Philadelphia International Airport seized $48,935 on Tuesday from a Massachusetts man for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The man was boarding a flight to Jamaica and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on an international flight. The man completed a financial form, reporting $4,000, however; CBP officers discovered a total of $48,935 on his person and in his luggage. Officers subsequently seized the $48,935.

This story is a good opportunity to go over some basic information about customs money seizures, which is similar whether at Philly International Airport or elsewhere. First, anytime a person is transporting more than $10,000 in cash or monetary instruments into or out of the country, they must report the cash value to U.S. Customs. In this case, if the man who had his money seized by CBP really had only $4,000, there would be no need to complete the financial form (FinCEN 105) that is mentioned in the story. But, be mindful of what your fellow travelers are carrying in terms of cash to avoid a structuring violation.

Rather, he would be under no duty to report. But in this case, the story suggests (and our experience representing who’ve had cash seized) that Customs were very suspicious that this person was not telling the truth and therefore wanted to catch him in a violation of the reporting requirement and so asked him to complete the financial form.

Because he under-reported the amount of currency he had the money became subject to seizure for, at minimum, a failure to report.Thus, his money was taken by CBP and, if he wants it, he must now get it back by making a petition, an offer in compromise, or filing a claim, and show that the money came a from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use.

The story ends with an accurate warning:

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.

“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 Susan Stranieri, CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Philadelphia. “The traveler was given the opportunity to truthfully report his currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”

Have you cash seized at Philly International Airport?

If you’ve had cash seized from CBP at Philly International Airport, 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.

Failure to Declare Jewelry at Chicago Customs

Recently, customs in Chicago made a large seizure of jewelry from an arriving passenger for a failure to declare jewelry that was purchased abroad. The full story, which I quote below, is a lesson in the penalties for violations of 19 USC 1497, which is the law that allows seizures and penalties for a passenger’s failure to declare jewelry and other imported merchandise.

We have written more extensively on what a failure to declare is, and what the consequences are, at this link: Failure to declare under 19 USC 1497.

This failure to declare will prove to be a costly mistake. There are three things the importer must do to get out of this mess:

  1. Pay the original duties ($30,043.75)
  2. Pay any penalty levied (maximum $691,553)
  3. Get the jewelry back (petition for remission after the notice of seizure)

The penalty will, no doubt, be issued for the full amount allowed by law which is the value of the seized property. The importer will have 60 days to either pay the full penalty or request a penalty reduction based on customs mitigation guidelines for failure to declare. Those guidelines basically state that for commercial violations of this type he should end up paying anywhere from 3 to 8 times the duty that was owed. That means somewhere between $90,000 and $240,000.

If ever I saw a person in dire need of a customs lawyer, this is it. If you’re out there and reading this give me a call at (734) 855-4999.

CHICAGO —U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport seized a cache of jewelry worth almost $700,000 on Thursday. A 65-year-old U.S. citizen was selected for examination by CBP officers as he arrived from Paris via a flight London.

The passenger claimed nothing on his Automated Passport Control (APC) declaration, his written declaration and confirmed to CBP officers that he had not made any purchases or acquisitions on his trip. Upon examination of his baggage, CBP officers noticed receipts for various boxes containing what appeared to be high end jewelry, invoices and receipts. Some lose jewelry was discovered concealed in pockets of articles of clothing within his luggage. A total of 29 high value jewelry pieces were identified.

Upon discovery of the jewelry, the passenger provided CBP officers with the values of each item and stated that he works as jewelry distributor in the United States. Computer checks indicated that the passenger has imported jewelry in the past on several occasions.

The total estimated domestic value of all 29 items is $691,553. The jewelry was seized under 19 USC 1497, failure to declare. The passenger faces a maximum penalty equal to the domestic value of the undeclared merchandise and forfeiture of the jewelry. Had the passenger made a proper declaration, he would have paid $30,043.75 in duty.

As mentioned above, the importer can respond to customs’ notice of seizure and the subsequent notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to return the property and 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 may bring a lawsuit against them 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 had a failure to declare jewelry to Customs or had other property seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. Once your merchandise is seized, Customs may issue a penalty for the violation of law itself. If you have received a notice of penalty from U.S. Customs call our office immediately to discuss the possibility of filing a petition to reduce the penalty amount.

We are able to assist petitions and in seizures by customs nationwide.