Tag: structuring

Display of cash seized by Dulles CBP going to Ethiopia

Dulles CBP Seizes $27K in Cash from Ethiopia-bound Family

CBP made a press release about a recent cash seizure which, to my mind, makes them look pretty bad because I often hear the emotional side of customs money seizure cases from the violators (who yeah, are also victims).

It is sad because it’s a family of 5 traveling to Ethiopia. Although they had $27,330 with them, the government seized all but $830. Imagine getting around in a cash-based economy on $830.

Also imagine having to pay re-booking fees, hotel and transportation costs for 5 people. 😢💸

The details are below, but basically, the father reported having $8,000. Then the son reported he had $8,000 (structuring, anyone?). Then CBP found another $11,000 in their bags.

Tragic, yes. Avoidable, very much yes. CBP wants you to know – report the money truthfully, and you can avoid such tragedies! Unfortunately now, the family is going to have much more work to do than just filling out a FinCen 105 form when they try to get their money back from CBP Dulles. A lot more work, and a lot more time.

Do it the easy way. Report your cash before you get asked!

STERLING, Va. – With airline staffing shortages forcing flight cancellations and route reductions, it seems now would be an ideal time for international travelers to truthfully report all of their currency to Customs and Border Protection officers during an outbound inspection.

One Ethiopia-bound family learned that lesson the hard way after CBP officers seized $27,330 from them on Sunday at Washington Dulles International Airport for violating U.S. currency reporting requirements. The family also missed their once daily flight to Ethiopia and lost a day of their vacation trip.

Officers approached the family of five at the departure gate and asked how much currency they possessed. The father, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethiopia, verbally reported that he had about $8,000. Officers then reminded the travelers of federal currency reporting laws and asked the father to annotate the back of the CBP form describing the currency reporting law. As the father prepared to write their currency amount and sign, the eldest son reported that he also possessed about $8,000.

The father then completed a U.S. Treasury form for the total amount of currency. During a subsequent inspection of their carry-on bags, CBP officers discovered an additional $11,000.

CBP officers then escorted the family back to CBP’s inspection station and examined their checked baggage. Officers found no additional currency. Officers discovered and seized a total of $27,330 for violating U.S. currency reporting laws. Officers returned $830 to the family and released them to continue their trip. However, their flight had already departed and they had to be rebooked on another Ethiopian Airlines flight.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP has seized your cash, we urge you to call us for a consultation before considering doing it yourself. You probably will not be happy with the outcome if you do, based on Dulles’ aggressive posture in most cases. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

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Electronic FinCen105 From CBP

In the past few years, CBP has made it possible to file a FinCEN 105 form online at this website. Common sense would tell you if you file the report that you’re carrying more than $10,000 in cash (or monetary instruments) online, you can avoid having to go through the hassle of reporting the money in person.

That’s common sense, anyway. So much for that, because you’d be 100% wrong. If you file the report online, you still have to physically report to CBP as confirmation! For this reason, I did a new YouTube video on the topic:

You can also see my other YouTube videos on related cash seizure topics on our channel here: Great Lakes Customs Law YouTube Channel

Has CBP seized your money?

Has CBP seized your money? If so, we can help. Read our helpful customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

Piles of U.S. Currency seized by CBP in Baltimore

CBP Baltimore Seizes $42k Cash from Jamaicans

CBP in Baltimore seized some cash from travelers, in 2 incidents, who were traveling to Jamaica. The story from CBP in its original form is here:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $41,933 in unreported currency recently from travelers heading to Jamaica at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). . . .

On Tuesday, CBP officers seized $15,433 from a Jamaican citizen who attempted to board a flight to Montego Bay. The man reported, both verbally and in writing, that he possessed $7,000. CBP officers discovered $11,566 in his carry-on bag and an additional $3,867 in his checked baggage.

CBP officers at BWI earlier seized $13,000 in unreported currency from a mother and daughter as they were boarding a flight to Montego Bay on May 31 and seized $13,500 in unreported currency from a Jamaican man boarding a Montego Bay-bound flight on May 29.

Piles of cash seized by CBP in Baltimore

The consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, and potential criminal charges. An individual may petition for the return of seized currency, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

Have you had cash seized from CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport?

If CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport has seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read 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.

Detroit Field Offices 2020 Statistics

CBP Detroit Cash Seizures Decline by Nearly 60% in Pandemic

In fiscal year 2019 (October 2018 through October 2019), CBP seized $7.8 million in cash from (most unsuspecting) travelers at Detroit Metro Airport, the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

Last fiscal year (October 2019 through October 2020), however, CBP seized nearly 60% less than 2019! CBP seized only $4.6 million in cash in 2020. A marked decrease, likely due to the travel restrictions for basically 7 months of the entirety of the fiscal year. Here’s the story:

DETROIT — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel operating at the multiple ports of entry throughout Michigan had an unprecedented year, with a 1,736 percent increase in seized marijuana and 227 percent increase in seized firearms amid public health concerns and restricted travel conditions related to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The Detroit Field Office includes the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie, and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Drug enforcement operations at Michigan’s five ports of entry netted the following totals: 9,059 pounds of marijuana – a 1,726 percent increase when compared with last fiscal year; 211 pounds of cocaine, more than 1.5 pounds of methamphetamines; and a little more than 15 pounds of fentanyl.

A total of 203 firearms were seized – a 227 percent increase from last year – along with 5,334 rounds of ammunition.

The amount of undeclared currency seized totaled $4.6 million dollars.

A total of 225 individuals were arrested in Fiscal Year 2020 for reasons to include: narcotics smuggling, human smuggling, firearms violations, and fraud.

Finally, our Agriculture Specialists intercepted 2,010 pests. Their diligence and expertise is crucial in preventing foreign pests from causing harm to the agriculture industry.

“This past year the men and women of CBP worked through some of the most adverse conditions that we have ever asked them to work through especially here in Detroit,” said Christopher Perry, Director of Field Operations for CBP in Detroit. “I am simply amazed at how our officers steadfastly enforced the laws of the United States, while fostering our nation’s economic security through lawful international trade and travel during the greatest pandemic my generation has seen.”

We have noticed an uptick in seizure cases again as the pandemic wanes, and people get vaccinated and become more comfortable (and able) to travel. Fiscal year 2021, which began in October 2020 and ends on October 2021, will still be majorly affected by pandemic. Less travel means less cash seizures by CBP.

Has Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read 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.

 

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Officer's uniform, featuring the seal of the agency.

Top 10 things to know after a U.S. customs (CBP) money seizure

1. You should expect a CAFRA notice of seizure.

After a customs money seizure, you should expect to receive a CAFRA notice of seizure in the mail. This is different from the custody receipt for seized property you you should’ve received.

2. U.S. Customs is only required to “send” a notice of seizure in 60 days most of the time.

After the U.S. customs seizes money they must send a notice of seizure. In most cases, CBP is not required to confirm it was received, only that it was sent.

3. If CBP sends the notice of seizure and you don’t get it, or its late, your case will suffer.

Someone who has had customs seize cash usually has 30 days from the date on the CAFRA notice of seizure to respond to get money back administratively, or 35 days to take the case to court by filing a CAFRA seized asset claim form. If you do not receive the notice of seizure from Customs, the clock to respond and get your seized cash back from customs is still ticking. Waiting passively for CBP to send the CAFRA notice of seizure will jeopardize your case.

4. You can choose how your case will be handled through an election of proceedings form.

An election of proceedings form is enclosed with the notice of seizure. You must choose an option, sign and return the form as directed to contest your cash seizure case with customs. You should get a free currency seizure consultation before deciding how to proceed to get seized cash back from CBP.

5. Your case will go to court only if you or CBP seeks judicial forfeiture.

Typically the only way you can get your customs money seizure case before a judge is by properly filing a CAFRA seized asset claim form that is signed by you. The detailed instructions for this step are in the notice of seizure and the election of proceedings form.

6. An administrative petition for return of seized cash isn’t an apology letter or explanation.

If you choose to file an administrative petition for returned of seized cash it should not be in the form of an apology letter or explanation to Customs. A notice of seizure is a legal document and requires a legal response. If you admit to a crime or violation there is no way to take it back. If CBP chooses to criminally prosecute you, you will not be able to say you are innocent.

7. You must prove the money was legal.

Whatever election of proceedings option you select, you will have to prove the money seized by CBP was legal and came from a legitimate source. This is most typically done by including supporting documents like affidavits, tax returns, contracts, profit and loss sheets, bank statements, tax returns, business registration certificates, and proofs of employment or income with the administrative petition (if chosen as the option). Be careful not to undershare or overshare with Customs, or accidentally or unknowingly disclose other violations of the law.

Even if you prove the cash seized by CBP was from a legitimate source, you also have to prove that it was going to be used for a legal purpose. This can be a trip itinerary, proof of expenses, medical bills, leases, and other documents.

8. You must be patient; processing times vary by port, sometimes taking a year or more.

If you choose an administrative petition, offer in compromise, or claim, the process can take very long; sometimes a year or more. Doing everything right the first time helps prevent unnecessary delays.

9. Statements made to CBP can be used against you.

It is likely that when you were detained by CBP after the money seizure that you were read your “Miranda rights” and told that you had the right to remain silent. Any statements you made before you were detained and after you were detained and read your rights can be used against you.

10. You may be charged with a crime.

Failure to report cash to customs, structuring cash transactions, and bulk cash smuggling all carry with them civil and criminal penalties. You can be charged either civilly, criminally, or both.

$17,200 of seized cash spread out on a metal table

San Antonio CBP Seizes $32k Cash in 2 Incidents

The travel restrictions in the United States due to coronavirus have severely limited travel, resulting in a decrease in CBP cash seizure activity due to decreased volume of travel. This is particularly true of air travel, and even the U.S Canada Border. However, that’s not as true at the southern border which is not hit as hard as the northern part of the country (especially Michigan and Chicago, where our offices are located).

In January, CBP reported on two cases where travelers’ from Mexico had money seized totaling about $32,000. The money was seized for cash structuring violations in both cases, which can result in increased penalties if legitimate source and intended use of the seized cash is proven.

The total amount seized from the travelers reached more than $32,000. This currency was seized at San Antonio International Airport CBP officers seized $17,200 in unreported currency when a pair of travelers refused to provide a truthful report.

“There is no limit to the amount of currency a traveler can bring in or take out of the U.S.,” said San Antonio Acting CBP Port Director Jose Mendiola. “The only requirement is that travelers must complete a Currency Reporting Form when traveling internationally with currency valued at $10,000 or more.”

According to Mendiola, the currency is not limited to U.S. dollars. “Currency is any monetary instrument including foreign coins, travelers’ checks, and gold. Basically any negotiable instruments whose collective value reaches $10,000 or more.”

Mendiola added that this requirement also applies to passengers travelling together and carrying currency that exceeds $10,000 dollars. When passengers split up the currency amongst themselves to avoid reporting it that is currency structuring.

Currency structuring led to a seizure, Jan. 22, when CBP officers inspected a pair of Global Entry travelers arriving from Mexico. A 60-year-old citizen of Mexico declared $9,915 and his 44-year-old companion, also a Mexican citizen, declared $4,800. Both passengers completed a Customs Declaration Form declaring those amounts. However, when CBP interviewed the pair they admitted that they divided the money before boarding their flight and that the currency belonged to only one passenger. The final amount seized was $14,807. CBP also revoked both travelers’ Global Entry memberships.

Not both of the travelers above last their global entry membership because of their alleged failure to report cash and cash structuring, which is a common practice by CBP. More significantly though is what might happen in the future; permanent loss (forfeiture) of all of the money, or a steep penalty (which could be 50% or more of the total amount seized).

The second seizure occurred Jan. 23, when CBP officers inspected another pair of travelers who arrived from Mexico. These passengers initially claimed to be traveling alone. The 26-year-old Mexican national claimed to be traveling with $9,000 and completed a Customs Declaration Form reporting that amount. CBP officers later encountered a 25-year-old Mexican citizen who declared traveling with $8,200 and signed a Customs Declaration Form reporting that amount. During CBP processing the pair admitted that they had divided the currency before boarding the flight and decided to enter the CBP processing area separately. Total amount seized in this instance was $17,200.

Nationwide, in fiscal year 2019, CBP seized $68,879,080 in currency. Fiscal year 2020 through Jan. 23, currency seizures are at $20,808,879. In the Houston region, which includes San Antonio and Dallas, currency seizures reached over $1M and have increased 54% over the same time last fiscal year.

Has San Antonio CBP seized cash from you?

If San Antion CBP seized cash from you, we urge you not to try to get the money back on your own. You will not be happy with the outcome. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Cash seized by CBP in Dulles airport for failure to report laid out on a table with Homeland Security logo

CBP Seizes $170k from 7 Travelers at Dulles

Dulles CBP does it again, and again.. and again, again, again, and again, and… again. That is, they sezied almost $170,000 in cash at Dulles airport for not reporting cash to Customs before leaving the country.

The 7 cash seizures by Customs range over a 2 week period, from July 13 to August 1. Travelers were Cash seized by Customs not reported and hidden in a bag at Dulles airporttaking cash to Belgium, Ghana, Turkey, Qatar, and Serbia. In each case, the travelers were stopped by CBP before boarding their plan and incorrectly reported the amount of money they were traveling, when asked.

Note that, if you’re boarding your flight and you haven’t already made the report, even if you make an accurate report when stopped, you’ve already committed the violation of failure to report. Also, in these cases, not filing the report is only one of the potential charges; additionally, the money could be seized for bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses, leading to a higher penalty. Worse yet, CBP can criminally indict any person for bulk cash smuggling, structuring, failing to report, and also making false statements to federal officials (i.e., reporting the wrong amount of money).

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $169,431 during seven recent violations of federal currency reporting laws at Washington Dulles International Airport.

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States.  Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing where they enter or leave the country.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, as illustrated by the following cases, and subjected to potential criminal charges.

  • CBP officers seized $21,735 from a Cameroon woman and son boarding a flight to Belgium August 1.  The family reported $9,700.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $735 to the family for humanitarian purposes and released the family.
  • CBP officers seized $30,721 from a U.S. man boarding a flight to Ghana July 30.  The man verbally reported $9,000 then wrote down that he possessed $11,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in white envelopes in a carry-on bag. Officers released $721 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $26,177 from a U.S. family boarding a flight to Turkey July 29.  The family reported $21,000.  Officers discovered additional currency concealed inside children’s socks and in cell phone cases. Officers released $1,177 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $34,585 from a U.S. man and his Ghanaian wife boarding a flight to Ghana July 23.  The couple reported that they each possessed $10,000.  Officers discovered additional currency during an inspection.  Officers released $1,585 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $18,390 from a U.S. couple boarding a flight to Turkey July 21.  The couple reported $9,090.  Officers discovered additional currency in an envelope in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $20,645 from a U.S. man and his Jordanian wife boarding a flight to Qatar July 19.  The couple reported $14,020.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in the woman’s purse.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $17,178 from a Kosovo woman boarding a flight to Serbia July 13.  The woman reported $8,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in luggage and carry-on bags.  Officers released $1,578 to the woman for humanitarian purposes and released the family.

In each case, CBP officers read the federal reporting requirements to the travelers and solicited their understanding of the law.  Officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency they possessed, both verbally and in writing.

“Customs and Border Protection outbound inspections protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or that fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “These currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

Dulles is one of the more aggressive ports when it comes to seizures, penalties, and criminal indictments. If you’ve had money seized by Customs, you should hire a lawyer.

CBP Dulles Seizes Cash Bound for Ghana and Turkey

Dulles CBP conducted more currency seizure operations on people entering and leaving the country for not report carrying more than $10,000 cash. The law requires that transporting more than $10,000 in cash into or out of the United States be reported to a Customs officer at the port of entry or departure, typically on FinCen Form 105. In this particular summary of enforcement activity, CBP seized a total of about $56,000 from a three different sets of travelers, as follows:

Three more travelers failed to truthfully report all their currency to a CBP officers and saw their currency seized.Consequences for violating U.S. currency laws are severe: from loss of all unreported currency to potential criminal charges, as illustrated by the following three cases:

  • CBP officers seized $18,565 from a passenger boarding a flight to Istanbul, Turkey Sunday. Officers discovered the unreported currency in the travelers checked baggage, carry-on bag and cellular phone case.
  • CBP officers seized $20,710 from a family boarding a flight to Ankara, Turkey Sunday. Officers discovered the unreported currency in the family’s baggage.
  • CBP officers seized $17,210 from a couple boarding a flight to Accra, Ghana Sunday. Officers discovered the unreported currency in four envelopes inside their baggage.

Travelers in all three cases were U.S. citizens. None was arrested.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States. None of the currency is taxed. Federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or monetary instruments must report it to a CBP officer and complete a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.

“Customs and Border Protection urges travelers to be completely honest during CBP inspections, including by truthfully report all of their currency,” said Daniel Mattina, CBP Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “The best way for travelers to hold onto their currency is to fully comply with our nation’s currency reporting laws.”

In each case, CBP officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency.

Did you fail to report more than $10,000 in cash to CBP?

If you fail to report more than $10,000 in cash to CBP, your money could be seized. If your money has been seized for a failure to report, you should contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Stacks of cash that Houston CBP seized from travelers leaving the country

Houston CBP Seizes $100K Cash from Travelers

It’s been almost a year since CBP reported on Houston airport cash seizures (the last story is here), even though CBP taking cash at Houston airport is pretty common. As with all CBP money seizures, the money is most typically taken by CBP for a failure to report it, structuring it, or smuggling it. In this story, a couple was carrying $110,204 to Taiwan — but only reported $50,000. Here’s the full article:

HOUSTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized over $100,000 Dec.7 after travelers made repeated inaccurate reports about the amount of money they were carrying.

“International travelers can carry an unlimited amount of money traveling into or departing from the U.S., but are required to report currency over $10,000,” said Houston CBP Acting Port Director Steven Scofield. “Those who refuse to comply with the federal reporting requirements face the risk of having the currency seized.”

Two passengers, both U.S. citizens, traveling from Houston to Taiwan were selected for a baggage inspection. The travelers were given multiple opportunities to truthfully declare the amount of money they were carrying. The couple reported carrying just over $50,000, however, CBP officers found $110, 204 in the travelers’ respective wallet, purse, backpack and jacket.

The currency was seized by CBP as the travelers failed to properly report the money as required by U.S. law. The travelers were released to continue on with their travels.

Too bad, and so sad. This cash seizure could have been complete avoided by properly reporting the cash to customs before (or even at the time of) departure.

Was your money seized at Houston airport?

If you’ve had money seized at Houston airport by CBP you can learn more 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.

Stacks of cash and a pile of envelopes seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Dulles Airport CBP seizes over $77k in cash

CBP at Dulles Airport in Virginia is taking more and more cash from travelers, and is spreading the news far and wide in news releases such as the one that follows. In this particular story, there is a story of SIX currency seizures in July that resulted in a seizure of cash of more than $150,000, all for a failure to file the currency report for more transporting more than $10,000.

As such, these CBP airport cash seizures were totally avoidable. It is legal to transport more than $10,000 in cash, but it’s illegal not to report the transportation of that cash. The airport cash report is required when leaving the country, and when arriving. It’s pretty simple, but you can read about it. Here’s the story as narrated by some fine CBP employee with knowledge of the facts:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $77,586 combined in three seizures of travelers flying international through Washington Dulles International Airport recently for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

CBP officers seized:

  • $20,211 from an Ethiopia-bound couple on Saturday. The couple reported $8,000 and then $11,600; however, a CBP currency canine alerted and CBP officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag and purse, and in wallets each possessed.
  • $33,796 from a Burundi woman who arrived on a flight from Ghana on July 27. The woman reported $9,000. CBP officers discovered $32,765, 483 Ghanaian Cedi and 50 UAE Dirhams for a total U.S. dollar equivalent of $33,796.
  • $23,579 from a mother and son bound for Sudan on July 24. They verbally reported “less than $10,000,” and then wrote down $9,800. CBP officers discovered an additional $4,000 in a laptop case and multiple envelopes in a purse that contained a combined $10,579 for a total count of $23,579.

During each seizure, CBP officers permitted the travelers numerous opportunities to truthfully report their total currency, including having the travelers read and sign the currency reporting requirements, and make verbal and written declarations before officers conducted inspections.

 

Any airport cash seizure by CBP at Dulles airport brings with it great risk. To my knowledge, Dulles airport strictly enforces a penalty of 50% for anyone involved in a structuring or bulk cash smuggling offense; and they broadly interpret the laws of structuring and bulk cash smuggling.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.