Tag: seizure

U.S. Customs Seizes Bulk Cash from 23 y/o US Citizen

In a currency seizure reported by U.S. Customs, customs seized over $250k 23 year old man headed into Mexico. No mention of an arrest, but just an ongoing investigation. This seizure is probably based on both bulk cash smuggling and failure to report. Both carry criminal consequences. Customs also gets the law wrong, as we explained below, which is a great reason to hire a lawyer for your customs money seizure case. Let’s have a look at the always-interesting-facts in this currency seizure story to see what the person did wrong that caused this encounter to end up as another customs airport money seizure:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville Port of Entry seized $259,750 in bulk U.S. currency. [ . . . ] Stacks of varying denominations totaling $259,750 in cash seized by customsundeclared currency seized by CBP officers and agents recently at Brownsville Port of Entry.

On Nov. 24, CBP officers working outbound enforcement operations at the Gateway International Bridge came in contact with a silver 2007 Volkswagen Jetta as it attempted to exit the United States and enter Mexico. The driver, a 23-year-old United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas was referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, a search of the Jetta resulted in the discovery of two packages of bulk U.S. currency hidden within the vehicle. CBP officers seized the currency the vehicle and the case had been referred to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation. [ . . . ]

It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more 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. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

If this guy could prove the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use, then this customs cash seizure was completely avoidable. Near the bottom of this story customs states that the law requires that a person file a formal report of “$10,000 or higher” into or out of the United States. That is incorrect. The law requires reports of more than $10,000. If even customs doesn’t know the law, you are better of hiring an attorney.

Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country; call (734) 855-4999 to consult with a customs lawyer today (you can read our popular page on Responding to a Customs Money Seizure HERE).If you have had money seized by Detroit CBP/customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page (see our case results here). We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles customs currency seizures:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. CustomsKeep Calm and Declare Monetary Instruments Exceeding $10,000 USD
  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

U.S. Customs Seizure of $2M in Counterfeit Handbags

Customs made another high value seizure of counterfeit merchandise being imported into the United States with infringing trademarks under 19 USC 1526. Customs seized 198 counterfeit “Hermes Birkin” handbags that they allege infringe the a trademark.  The manufacturer’s suggested retail price, if the counterfeits were genuine, is $1,861,200. 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 – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  (click to read). 

SAVANNAH, Ga. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations at the Port of Savannah, Ga., seized 198 counterfeit Hermès Birkin handbags October 6. Had the goods been genuine Hermès Birkin handbags, CBP import specialists estimated that the merchandise would have had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,861,200.

This seizure is the Port of Savannah’s third multi-million dollar seizure of counterfeit goods this year.

The shipment, manifested as polyurethane handbags, arrived to the Port of Savannah September 4 from China. It was destined to an address in Atlanta.

“Counterfeit goods pose a potentially serious safety threat to consumers and economic loss to U.S. businesses,” said Lisa Beth Brown, Area Port Director in Savannah, Georgia. Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) remains a top trade priority for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

The counterfeit handbags will be destroyed. In July, CBP officers seized 377 cartons of counterfeit sunglasses with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,619,550. … In April, CBP officers seized more than $1 million in counterfeit soccer apparel.

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.

CBP Seizes $1.3M Worth of Counterfeit Toys

This is an odd story about a counterfeit seizure case because it’s unclear how customs determined the value of the seizure. Typically, the value of counterfeit seized merchandise is based on it’s MSRP; in other words, what the cost of the goods would be if they were genuine. In this case, the reason the product is counterfeit is an alleged “UL” logo — on what would otherwise be allowed imports, apparently.  Is customs valuing the added value of the UL mark? It is a point I would raise in any petition filed for mitigation of the penalty. The importers should expect to receive a notice of penalty from customs in the next few months.

Laredo, Texas – The Import Specialist Enforcement Team (ISET) at U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Laredo Port of Entry seized a total of 18 commercial shipments of counterfeit rechargeable toys over the summer, for allegedly infringing on the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) registered and recorded U.S. trademark. The total value of the shipments is nearly $1.3 million.

In the 18 enforcement actions, recently finalized, CBP import specialists from World Trade Bridge selected shipments of rechargeable toys for examination. During the examinations, CBP import specialists noticed that the Customs Penalty for Counterfeit UL Logobattery chargers accompanying each rechargeable toy all bore the UL trademark, which is a U.S. registered trademark recorded with CBP. ISET conducted a review and discovered that the shipments lacked legal authorization documentation to use the recorded trademark   A lead enforcement manager for UL confirmed that the use of their trademark was unauthorized and infringing on their recorded trademark. Given the foregoing, CBP’s ISET determined that the rechargeable toys in the shipments seized bore counterfeit trademarks and were subject to seizure. In these 18 enforcement actions, from late June to early September 2014, CBP subsequently seized a total of 4,671 rechargeable toys, which, had the trademark been genuine, is valued based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, in the amount of $1,292,953.00.

“Our ISET has done it again and through their diligence and attention to detail they prevented toys with chargers baring a counterfeit trademark from entering U.S. commerce and potentially causing harm to children,” said Joseph Misenhelter, CBP port director, Laredo Port of Entry. “Preserving Intellectual Property Rights and import safety are priority trade issues for CBP and our enforcement of these laws helps create a level playing field for all and strengthens the U.S. economy.”

How would you like to cough up $1.3 million for importing goods that bear a counterfeit logo into the United States? Like we have explained previously, this importer stands to face a hefty penalty for this customs counterfeit seizure.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, 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:

Customs Seizure of Fake Toys & Purses valued at $500k

How would you like to cough up a half million dollars for importing counterfeit and infringing goods into the United States? Like we have explained previously, this importer stands to face a hefty penalty — around $500,000 – for this customs counterfeit seizure of fake toys and purses from China.

People fail to grasp the consequences of importing counterfeits. 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, or just not caring about the consequences in quest for making themselves some money. To those and others, I say: Consult a customs attorney who is well acquainted with the laws enforced by the customs service and who can judge the legality of the transaction, even getting advice from customs in advance.

The importers should expect to receive a notice of penalty from customs in the next few months. Here is the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers . . . seized over 200 counterfeit handbags and nearly 50 packages of plastic building blocks, Sept. 29, with an estimated counterfeit toy penaltyManufacturer Suggested Retail Price of more than $500,000.

“Intercepting counterfeit goods protects the trademark holder, the unsuspecting consumer, and strengthens the U.S. economy,” said Houston CBP Area Port Director Dave Fluty. “Import safety and protecting intellectual property rights are priority trade issues.  We will take every opportunity to intercept counterfeit goods entering through this port.”

The shipment, which originated from China, was manifested as bags, plastic toys and jewelryHowever, when CBP officers examined the shipment, cartons of women’s handbags bearing counterfeit Prada, Christian Dior, Michael Kors, and other name brands were discovered.  Also in the shipment were cartons of plastic building blocks bearing the Lego brand.

CBP officers provided images of the items to the different trademark holders who each confirmed that the imported handbags and building blocks were counterfeit and confusingly similar to the genuine brand. The import specialists determined the MSRP value of the goods. The seized items, which were enroute to a Houston store, will be destroyed.

customs penalty for counterfeitHomeland Security Investigations is investigating.

Last year, CBP seized more than $4.7 million in intellectual property rights violations nationwide. Handbags and wallets were the highest valued seized goods with an MSRP estimate of more than $700 million, up from more than $500 million in 2012.

To enforce intellectual property rights, CBP relies on trademark owners registering with the Patent and Trademark Office and by recording the trade name with CBP at e-Recordation.

The trademark holder confirmed they were both counterfeit and confusingly similar? That’s impossible. A counterfeit is something that is indistinguishable, and something that is confusingly similar is considered “infringing” and not a counterfeit. And again, that’s another reason why you need a lawyer to respond to this type of customs actions: oftentimes, customs doesn’t even fully understand what laws they are enforcing!

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, 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: