Tag: search

Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP

If you are attempting to get your seized currency back from Customs by filing a petition for remission there are several legal requirements written into the Customs laws and regulations. Some do-it-yourselfers come to our customs law firm’s website looking for a sample currency seizure petition they can use to submit to Customs. Customs publishes its own set of forms for use in a wide variety of different customs enforcement/forfeiture contexts; for petitions there is a form called Petition for Remission or Mitigation of Forfeitures and Penalties Incurred (Customs Form 4609 (click to access)).  The form is extremely basic and we do not recommended it for use in the context of a customs money seizure. It can be used as a starting point, though, because any petition must have at least the information from that form.

But any good petition for seized currency should have a lot more information to be effective. When we file a petition on behalf of our currency seizure clients they are at least 10 Petition for Remission of Currency Seizurepages long because petitioning for the return of seized currency is a serious legal issue (read more about it here). Many people think it’s easy and sometimes Customs will lead you to believe it is. But why would you believe the people who just took your money? Here’s some of the questions that you should ask yourself before doing it yourself. Any lawyer you hire to help get your seized currency back should be able to answer these questions.

15 Questions to Ask Before Filing a Petition for Remission of Seized Currency with U.S. Customs:

  1. Was the search of your baggage or person constitutional?
  2. Was the currency seizure constitutional?
  3. Who has the burden of proof?
  4. What is the standard of proof that must be met by the party with the burden of proof?
  5. Does the currency seizure constitute an excessive fine in violation of the constitution?
  6. How do the federal courts in your state/circuit interpret the currency reporting requirement?
  7. Did you violate the currency reporting requirement?
  8. Are you admitting you violated the law? Are you saying too much? Are you not saying enough?
  9. Are you admitting other violations of laws you are unaware of? (unlawful currency structuring, bulk cash smuggling, conspiracy, FCPA violations (bribes), or false statement to law enforcement, among others)
  10. Did you bring the money from a country under economic sanctions, like Iran? If so, did you violate those sanctions or are you unintentionally admitting you violated those sanctions?
  11. Were there any recognized mitigating factors or aggravating factors?
  12. Are there mitigating factors that Customs has authority to recognize even though not in a written policy?
  13. Did you make an oral amendment of your declaration the Customs did not honor?
  14. Are documents properly notarized?
  15. Are documents properly translated?

If your money was seized by 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). Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles about money seizures by customs:

  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
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case
  14. Understanding CBP’s Election of Proceedings Form

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 – 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

Image for Seizure

that pose a dangerous risk,” 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:

 

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.

Customs Counterfeit Seizure; Soccer Jerseys

One of customs’ trade enforcement priorities is stopping the flow of counterfeit goods into the United States. Recently, customs seized counterfeit soccer club apparel that was imported into the United States with a street value of over 1 million dollars — “street value” here means the value of the merchandise if it was authentic. We have discussed the perils and consequences of importing counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States in previous articles, namely Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  and Importing Grey Market Goods (click to read).

The whole story is HERE, but let’s take a look at it below with my emphasis in bold:

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Soccer, known internationally as football, is the world’s most popular sport today. So it’s no wonder that some vendors will do anything to capitalize on this popularity, even if that includes resorting to theft; theft of a trademark holder’s rights and revenues.

It’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) mission to tackle counterfeit imports, and officers and import specialists in Savannah, Ga., scored a seizure of soccer apparel, April 11, which exceeded $1 million in manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).

A few of the counterfeit soccer jersey seizures displayed.
Shipment arrived from China March 12. It contained 390 cartons of soccer t-shirts, socks, shorts and other merchandise.

“Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation economy, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers, the economic security of our country, and in some cases, the health and safety of consumers,” said Reginald Manning, CBP Director of Field Operations in Atlanta. “Together with our enforcement partners, Customs and Border Protection continues to guard the nation’s borders against counterfeit products.”

The shipment arrived from China March 12. It contained 390 cartons of soccer t-shirts, socks, shorts and other merchandise that was destined to an address in Chamblee, Ga.

CBP import specialists placed an inspection hold on the shipment and had the container trucked the following day to CBP’s central examination station. That’s when CBP discovered several t-shirts bearing patches of professional soccer clubs and detained the shipment for trademark verification.

The apparel, which has an MSRP of $1,016,399, represented Arsenal, Barcelona, Celtic, Chelsea, Mexican Federation, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid football clubs.

CBP requested that the importer’s broker submit authorization letters from the respective trademark holders to import their branded items, but on March 27, the broker reported that the importer did not have authorization.

Over the next week, representatives from Arsenal, Celtic, and Chelsea football clubs reported to CBP that samples of the merchandise bearing their brand was indeed counterfeit. CBP then officially seized the shipment.

View or download still photos of the seized merchandise.

Protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) remains a CBP priority trade issue.

CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods.

The People’s Republic of China, where this shipment was manufactured, remains the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized by CBP and its primary IPR partner, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with a total value of $1.1 billion. That number represents 68% of all IPR seizures by MSRP in FY 2013.

In addition to China, CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized counterfeit merchandise from 73 additional economies during FY 2013, including Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The most interesting part of this article to readers of this blog should be the the customs brokers was asked for proof of authorization from the trademark holders to import trademarked merchandise into the United States, but was unable to do so. Basically, customs was asking the broker to prove the items were not counterfeit – or that the trademark holders would not object to them being imported into the United States. Not likely to happen, that. If you can obtain the consent of the trademark holder, you’re much more likely to be able to import them to the US.

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. — An arriving passenger at John F. Kennedy International Airport had a different kind of ‘beef’ 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.

“This latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances,” 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.

Border Patrol Agents Seize Over $1.5

Though not exactly the type of customs money seizure that my client’s experience (which usually at a land border crossing or at an airport), nevertheless Customs & Border protection recently issued a news release about some check-point currency seizures that the border patrol wing of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol executed.

San Clemente, Calif. — In two separate events, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested two foreign nationals with large quantities of concealed bulk cash.

The first event occurred Friday at 4:30 p.m., when an Uzbekistan national, who is a permanent U.S. resident, arrived at the San Clemente checkpoint driving a commercial truck. The 27-year-old man was hauling five used cars on a trailer. The man was referred to secondary, where a K-9 performed a cursory inspection resulting in a positive alert. California Army National Guard members, operating an x-ray system, detected anomalies in two Acura MDXs. Agents searched those vehicles and discovered false compartments in their rear bumpers. The compartments were filled with 49 bundles of cash. The bundles contained an approximate total of $1,476,245 in U.S. currency. The cash and two Acuras were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

The second event occurred on Sunday afternoon around 2 p.m., as agents were patrolling I-5. Agents observed a suspicious vehicle travelling southbound and initiated a vehicle stop. The 39-year-old Mexican national driver was holding a valid visa. Agents requested and received permission to search the man’s vehicle. Upon inspection, agents discovered $49,900 inside a black bag and inside the man’s jacket. An additional $10,000 was in the man’s pockets. When questioned, the man stated that the $10K was his, but he did not have a receipt of declaration for bringing the money into the U.S. He claimed that the other $49,900 did not belong to him and that he did not want to be associated with it. The driver is being held in Department of Homeland Security custody with removal proceedings pending. The vehicle and cash were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

If you have had money seized by customs 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 nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

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. 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

Customs Seizes $19,800 at Border

Customs executed another customs money seizure at a Texas border crossing; this story just doesn’t happen at land borders like our shared border with Canada, but also at international airports. This particular tale of woe concerns a woman who had 3 vacuum sealed packages containing a total of $19,800 — that they were vacuum sealed would most likely indicate to Customs that this was not an inadvertent failure to file a currency and monetary instrument report, but rather an attempt to smuggle money without alerting the drug/currency-sniffing dogs to the presence of the money.

Eagle Pass, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Eagle Pass seized more than $19,000 in undeclared currency Thursday afternoon.

“Large amounts of currency may be imported and exported with the proper documentation,” said Cynthia O. Rodriguez, CBP Port Director, Eagle Pass. “Failure to report international transit of $10,000 or more could mean forfeiture of funds and criminal sanctions.Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

“Seizing undeclared currency at ports of entry serves to deprive criminal organizations of their profits.”

Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, CBP officers at Eagle Pass International Bridge I encountered a pedestrian as she was exiting the United States bound for Mexico. During inspection, officers discovered the woman, a 22-year-old citizen of Mexico, had a large quantity of U.S. currency in her possession. Officers seized three vacuum-sealed packages containing a total of $19,800. The woman was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for federal prosecution.

The reason your currency was seized by customs may be different. The vast majority of my client’s have had their money taken by customs at the airport or at the land borders because of miscommunication, ignorance of the reporting requirement, confusion, fatigue from travel, and other times because of unfair, if not necessarily illegal, enforcement tactics used by customs. If you have had money seized by customs 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 nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

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. 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

Customs Seizes $80,000 in Currency from Smuggler

Another day, another customs money seizure. This again demonstrates that, as in countless other incidents, the concealment of the cash is a smuggling offense. If this was just a civil seizure and not a criminal seizure, the woman could try to prove legitimate source and legitimate intended use and petition to get her money back; then this situation would be completely avoidable. But now, even if she is ultimately found not guilty of a crime, she will still face civil forfeiture of the money and, if she wants it back, will have to fight for its return administratively, or in the courts.

If you have had money seized by customs 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 nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

The full story is here:

San Diego — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Otay Mesa port of entry Tuesday arrested a Fresno woman after discovering nearly $80,000 in unreported U.S. currency during an alleged smuggling attempt.

The incident occurred shortly before 1:30 p.m. on February 11, when CBP officers were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico along the 905 south. A CBP officer targeted a blue 2007 Dodge Charger and referred the driver and vehicle for a more in-depth examination.

A CBP officer with a currency and firearms detector dog screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted to the dashboard on the passenger side. Officers discovered several bundles of U.S. currency concealed in the dashboard area behind the vehicle’s glove compartment.

Officers extracted three bundles with $79,925 in cash from the vehicle.

The driver, a 35-year-old Mexican citizen and legal permanent resident of the U.S., was arrested and turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations agents for further processing, and was later transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center to await criminal arraignment.

CBP seized the vehicle and currency.

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. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

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. 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

Customs in Philadelphia Seizes $27k in Unreported Currency

Another news release from customs demonstrates why you should make a truthful declaration to customs when carrying over $10,000 to avoid a customs money seizure. In this instance, a husband and wife were travelling together and between each of them, they possessed over $27,000 in various currencies located in different envelopes. After verbally reporting $6,000, he later reported $16,000 in writing. It’s important to remember that the currency declarations and requirement to report travelling with more than $10,000 applies to all currencies, both foreign and domestic.

As with most cases of this type, it involves questions of potential structuring violations (dividing money up between multiple people to avoid the reporting requirement), bulk cash smuggling (customs will often try to say that concealing the currency in anything shows an intent to smuggle, even if it’s just in an envelope in your luggage in different locations). In order to get their money back, they will need to demonstrate a legitimate source and legitimate intended use and they can do this by filing  a petition.

The story:

Philadelphia – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $27,000 from a Ghana couple Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport after they failed to truthfully report the total currency they possessed.

Neither was criminally charged.

The couple arrived from Germany and was referred to a secondary inspection. The man verbally reported possessing $6,000. After CBP officers explained federal currency reporting requirements, the man then wrote down that he possessed $16,000. During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered multiple envelopes that contained U.S. currency, British pounds, Swiss francs and Ghana cedi. Officers verified the total currency as $27,431.30. Officers returned $500 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and seized the remaining $26,931.30. Officers released the couple 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.

“CBP derives no great pleasure from seizing travelers’ currency. However, there are consequences for failing to comply with U.S. currency reporting laws,” said Tarance Drafts, acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “We hope that all travelers are honest with CBP officers and truthfully declare the total currency they possess or other things that they are bringing from overseas to the U.S.”

If you have had money seized by customs 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 nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

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. 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

 

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 – 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]

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

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?