Tag: sterling

Dulles Airport CBP Took Cash from Husband and Wife

Dulles Airport CBP Seizes $25k from Bosnia and Herzegovina-bound travelers

Cash seizures at airports have spiked in Detroit, and also apparently in other regions, such as Dulles airport. As a case in point, here is yet another story about CBP seizing cash from a traveler at the airport in Sterling, Virginia: Washington Dulles International Airport.

Here is the full story (original here):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $25,000 Wednesday from travelers departing Washington Dulles International Airport for violating federal currency reporting regulations.A Bosnia and Herzegovina-bound family reported to CBP officers that they possessed $9,000. The father then signed a U.S. Treasury form reporting they possessed $15,000.A CBP inspection discovered a total of $19,754 in U.S. dollars and 5,085 Euros, combined equivalent to $25,616 in U.S. dollars, in possession of the three-person family.

CBP officers seized the currency and returned 985 Euros ($1,135 U.S. dollar equivalent) to the family for humanitarian purposes.  No charges were filed.  Officers released the family to continue their travel.

And here is what CBP Dulles is saying about the up-tick in airport currency seizures on their watch:

This is CBP’s third outbound currency seizure in two weeks at Dulles.  CBP officers seized $29,698 from a Qatar-bound family July 9 and $18,900 from a Ghana-bound man July 11. Read more about those unreported currency seizures.

“These continued currency seizures clearly illustrate the consequences of travelers not making truthful declarations to Customs and Border Protection officers,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles.  “The best way to keep all of your currency is to honestly report it all to Customs and Border Protection officers during inspection.”

They go on to get the reporting requirement, wrong, again (hint: it is more than $10,000, not $10,000 or

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

 

It is also true that none of the money is taxed, at least by Customs. If it is considered “income,” it may be taxable. But if you’ve already paid income taxes on the money, then it is definitely not taxable again by the IRS.

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$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP at Dulles Airport seizes $50k Cash Leaving Country

Dulles CBP has made a few notable seizures recently. Dulles cash seizures always seem to hit the CBP news release cycle, and last week was no exception. CBP reported on the seizure of almost fifty-grand in cash from travelers leaving the United States, so here is the story:

CBP officers seized $29,698 from a Qatar-bound family Saturday.  Officers explained the currency reporting regulations to the family and the father reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $14,000.  The man presented an envelope that contained $10,000 and $4,000 in pocket cash.  CBP officers then asked if he possessed additional currency, to which the man presented an additional $5,698.  An examination of the wife’s purse resulted in the discovery of an additional $10,000.  CBP officers returned $698 to the family and released them to continue their journey.

CBP officers seized $18,900 from a Ghana-bound man Tuesday.  The traveler reported verbally and in writing that he possessed $12,000.  During an examination, CBP officers discovered the additional cash.  Officers returned $500 to the traveler for humanitarian purposes and released him to continue his journey.

The original story says that everyone was a U.S. citizen, and non were criminally charged. In my experience, Dulles will likely say that both of these cases involved bulk cash smuggling, and therefore, they are able to keep at least 50% of the money that was seized according to CBP’s mitigation guidelines.

This Dulles cash seizure should also serve as a reminder to everyone that a report is required even when LEAVING the country, not just upon arrival. If you look closely, you’ll probably see signs in the airport containing notices about the reporting requirement.

An example of cash report for customs.

CBP Seizes $13K in Unreported Currency at Washington Dulles International Airport

A traveler bound for Ethiopa had $13,000 seized from him by U.S. Customs & Border Protection at Dulles airport a few weeks back. This story is part of the (seemingly) un-ending trend of currency seizures coming from Dulles airport lately.

The facts are largely the same as most of the other stories. A U.S. citizen attempts to leave the United States without first making the required currency report to Customs. The man probably thought he would not have to report it because — after all, you do not pass through Customs when leaving the country, only when arriving. But the currency reporting requirement applies equally to those entering the country and to those leaving the country.

During an outbound inspection, the man declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that he possessed $5,000; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $13,294 on his person and in his luggage.  The officers seized the $13,294, returning the equivalent of $424 in foreign and U.S. currency for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The traveler was then released to continue his journey.

A verbal or written declaration gets you nowhere if it is inaccurate. What form did he make the written declaration on and why? No declaration is required for monetary instruments of $10,000 or less, so why would Customs make him complete a written declaration?

The only reason would be to have affirmative proof that he did not make a proper verbal declaration of the money by being able to say, “See, he also lied about it in writing. It is not our word against his. His very own handwriting — his written declaration — also proves him guilty.”

By obtaining a written declaration, Dulles may have a stronger case if they try to prove that the money is subject to forfeiture for bulk cash smuggling violations.Yes, watch out in Dulles for strict enforcement of Customs guidelines concerning seizure of monetary instruments for structuring and bulk cash smuggling offenses.

 

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

Dulles CBP Seizes $52K headed for Ghana

It is now my opinion that Dulles CBP is vying to be first in currency seizures in the nation. That is a distinction held by Detroit CBP in the 2015 fiscal year. That year, the seized cash from over 500 people.

My opinion about Dulles is based on the most recent of many stories about Dulles CBP seizing cash from unwitting (and sometimes witting..) travelers at Dulles airport in Sterling, Virginia, since only September.

This story, like those, involves a failure to report cash to Customs; in this case, though, the person involved reported $40,000 – way more than than the $10,000 – and he actually possessed slightly more than $52,000. Now, it’s still illegal to underreport cash even when you do report more than $10,000. In other words, no matter how much you carry and how much you report, the report of cash to Customs still has to be ACCURATE. Being off by $12,000 is not accuracy.

But, the story is unique in that many people will report to Customs that they are carrying $9,990, or $9,800, or $9,700, when they are really carrying more than $10,000. They think that as long as they report some number less than $10,000, they will not be scrutinized. They’re wrong.

This man, however, reported $40,000. That seems like good faith to me, and my guess is he probably did not know exactly how much he had with him (yes, it happens), and he gave it his best guess, never expecting to be held to such a strict account by U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $52,000 from a Ghana-bound U.S. citizen on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

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.

During an outbound inspection, the man declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that he possessed $40,000; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $52,156 on his person and in his luggage.  The officers seized the $52,156 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The traveler was then released to continue his journey.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

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Dulles CBP Seizes $17k in Unreported Currency from Peruvian Woman

Another week, another cash seizure at Dulles airport by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. They are really racking of the seizures — and talk about it, a lot — this year.

The meat of the story says:

The woman arrived from Peru via Colombia shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday.  During a secondary examination, the woman initially reported that she possessed $3,000, and then changed that amount to $5,000.  CBP officers discovered $15,870 in U.S. dollars, and additional Peruvian Sol equivalent to $1,189 U.S. dollars for a total of $17,059 in her purse.

The untruthful report to CBP makes it this currency seizure completely legal under the federal currency reporting regulations, which penalize any failure to report cash to U.S. Customs & Border Protection. But not only did she have her cash seized, but:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $17,000, a fraudulent permanent resident identity card and a fraudulent social security card from a 54-year-old woman at Washington Dulles International Airport on Tuesday.

But, the story goes on to say that “authorities declined criminally prosecuting the woman.” At the time currency is seized, the seizing officers (or Homeland Security Investigations, I suppose…) are required to contact the U.S. Attorney’s office and advise them of the incident to determine whether to prosecute the case criminally and arrest the individual involved in the currency reporting violations.

However, CBP did “remove[] her from the United States for possessing fraudulent U.S. identity documents and barred her from re-entering the U.S. for five years.” Ooops!

Have you had cash seized at Dulles airport by Customs?

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A pile of $20 bills on a table.

CBP Seizes Structured Cash at Dulles

CBP Dulles seized over $23,000 that was unlawfully structured and not reported. Below, the story from CBP, explains that the a man was leaving the United States for South Africa and reported only $9,000, when he really had more than $13,000. This is the second recent story about a cash seizure at Dulles for from someone traveling to South Africa.

To make matters worse, CBP discovered that he was traveling with his sister, who was carrying another $10,000 for her brother. At Dulles airport, a structuring offense means a hefty penalty even if legitimate source and intended use of the documentation is presented.

Here are the interesting parts of the story, as told from the perspective of CBP Dulles:

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $23,000 from a South Africa-bound traveler on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

During an outbound inspection, a CBP currency detection canine alerted to the carryon bags of a U.S. citizen.  The man, both verbally and in writing, declared to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000; however, $13,267 was discovered in his bags and on his person.  During the course of the inspection it was determined that he was traveling with his sister, a Ghanaian citizen.  An additional $10,000 in unreported currency was found in her bags which the man stated belonged to him.  The officers seized the $23,267, returned $667 to the man for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

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Dulles Airport CBP Took Cash from Husband and Wife

Cash Taken by CBP From Travelers at Dulles

If you’re visiting the United States or leaving the United States and have more than $10,000 cash or equivalents, you must report it to CBP or risk having it seized for failing to report it (or worse yet, risk fines and jail time). A case in point comes to us from CBP at Dulles Airport from “from two South Africa-bound U.S. citizens on [September 22] for violating federal currency reporting violations“:

During an outbound inspection, the man and wife declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that they possessed $17,500; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $27,378 on their person and in their luggage.  The officers seized the $27,378 and advised them how to petition for the return of the currency. The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

So after the cash was taken, the couple was detained, questioned, and the cash counted, they were released to continue their journey.

What is a CBP detention like after cash is taken?

Typically after cash is taken by CBP, the seizure and detention takes long enough that the traveler’s cannot continue on their journey until the book a new flight (and pay re-booking fees). If husband and wife are traveling together, most of my husband-and-wife clients report that they are separated from each other and independently interrogated about the source of the cash and their intended destination, and what they intended to use the money for.

This interrogation can be done by a CBP officer or by a Homeland Security agent, depending on the situation. Customs’ is required to report the currency report violation to the U.S. Attorney’s office who is charged with determining whether or not they wish to press criminal charges, and thus determine if the violators should be arrested.

The encounters with CBP range from polite and apologetic to demeaning, rude, and aggressive; and everything else in between.

Did CBP take your cash?

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$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP Seizes $44k from Couple Flying to Ghana

What happens when you’re going to Ghana and you don’t declare your cash to CBP? Your cash is a Goner! Last week, CBP at Dulles Airport in Sterling Virginia seized $44,606 from a couple leaving the United States from Ghana.

According to CBP, the couple told CBP they only had $14,000…. that’s about $30,000 less than what they were carrying. If true, that is a pretty serious failure to report violation. No one forgets they are carrying $30,000 less than they have.

But there are always two sides to every story. In my experience, CBP occasionally has a way of justifying cash seizures if the facts later turn out not to support their reasons for seizure (like when family is traveling together and they think the money was intentionally structured). Here’s the story from CBP’s perspective:

In separate incidents on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted an impostor who arrived from Ghana, and seized about $44,000 from a couple heading to Ghana.

[ . . . ]

Moments later, a CBP K9 alert led to CBP officers seizing a total of $44,606 in U.S. dollars and equivalent foreign currency from a Ghanaian couple who attempted to board a flight to Ghana. The woman was already on the flight when CBP officers interviewed the man. The Ghanaian man reported to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000. He then reported that his wife had an additional $5,000. CBP officers discovered the additional currency during a baggage inspection.

CBP returned $1,500 to the couple and released them to continue their journey.

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.

None of the three travelers was arrested. The Privacy Act prohibits releasing the travelers’ names since they were not criminally charged.

“These are two very serious violations of U.S. immigration and currency reporting laws, and these travelers are very fortunate to avoid criminal prosecution,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “Customs and Border Protection hopes that these incidents are a reminder to all travelers to be truthful with CBP officers. The United States is a welcoming country, especially to those who respect our nation’s laws.”

Has CBP seized your cash?

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$100 Dollar Bills Slider

$22K Currency Seized by CBP enroute to Serbia

Dulles strictly enforces the bulk cash smuggling and structuring guidelines (to my knowledge, not publicly available and not published in CBP’s mitigation guidelines) that call for a hefty forfeiture of half – or more than half of the money even when legitimate source and intended use are shown.

The repeated denial of carrying more than $10,000, couple with the splitting of the money between two envelopes in the carry-on bag is enough for customs to infer an intent to evade the reporting requirement; the concealment of the money in envelopes in the carry-on baggage is enough to infer an intent to conceal the money from the view of CBP.

That means this man heading to Serbia is about to lose, at a minimum, $11,000, for not properly understanding the the cash reporting laws and for not being (anywhere near) truthful to CBP at the time he was asked to report how much money he was traveling with.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized nearly $23,000 from a Serbia-bound U.S. citizen on Sunday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

During an outbound inspection, the Serbia-bound man declared, both verbally and in writing, to a CBP officer that he possessed $9,000. CBP officers discovered $700 in U.S. dollars and 190 Euros (about $211 in USD) in the man’s wallet. CBP officers then discovered an additional $22,000 split between two envelopes in the man’s carry-on bag.

CBP officers seized $22,911 in total. Officers then provided a humanitarian release of $723 plus the 190 Euros to the traveler, and advised him how to petition for the remainder of the currency. Officers released the traveler to continue his journey to Serbia.

“Customs and Border Protection officers afforded this traveler multiple opportunities to truthfully report his currency, and he chose not do to so. Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements risk severe consequences, including currency seizure and potential criminal charges,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Washington Dulles. “The easiest way for travelers to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it all to a CBP officer during inspection.”

Incidentally, the story says that CBP advised him “how to petition for the remainder of the currency”. We just wrote about taking legal advice from CBP — in short, you have a lot more options for getting seized cash back from CBP besides a petition, some of which are presented on the election of proceedings form.

Has CBP seized currency from you?

If you got currency seized by CBP 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.