Tag: structuring

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.

 

CBP seizes ammo and $9,995 cash, make criminal charges

Channel 4 Valley Central news picked up on a seizure of ammunition and some cash at the Hidalgo International Bridge last Wednesday. The story is noteworthy because it involves the seizure of less than $10,000…. by about $5 bucks.

Who travels with $9,995? Someone who has structured their currency transaction so that they would not have to file a currency transaction report on FinCen 105 and report their cash to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, that’s who.

And what’s wrong with traveling with $9,995 if you desire to avoid the hassle of reporting the money to CBP? Everything, because it’s against the law! That’s called unlawful cash structuring. Let’s have a look at an excerpt from the criminal complaint:

criminal-complaint-cash-ammo

It is somewhat suspicious but, his explanations have a ring of truth to it. Nevertheless, exporting ammunition from the U.S. (and thought not charged with it… structuring a cash transaction to evade the reporting requrement) is illegal, and therefore, a crime. And at the end of the day, that’s the reason he was charged; he’s not been charged with intending to use the ammo or the cash for any nefarious purpose (even if CBP believes that he did so intend).

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Officers seized more than 400 rounds of ammunition and $9,995 at the Hidalgo bridge on Wednesday.

Espinoza “provided CBPOs with a negative declaration for currency, weapons and ammunition,” according to the criminal complaint.Officers search Espinoza’s vehicle and found $9,995 cash — $6,620 underneath a battery cover inside the engine and $3,375 stuffed in an envelope, according to the criminal complaint.

They also found 400 rounds of ammunition.

“Espinoza claimed the U.S. currency was meant to purchase vehicles from a local auto auction company in the McAllen, Texas area, but he did not purchase the vehicles,” according to the criminal complaint. “He stated that he hid the U.S. currency in the engine compartment to conceal it from Mexican Customs officials and the cartel because they would take it from him if they knew he had it.”

Has your cash been seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection?

If CBP seized cash from, learn more about what your options are from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide; and can take advantage of the free currency seizure consultation we offer by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

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.

Did you structure cash seized by CBP?

If you structured cash that was seized by CBP, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

CBP Detroit Cash Forfeitures for 7-29-16

Last Friday’s notice of seizure and intent to forfeit for U.S. Customs & Border Protection featured 3 currency seizures that occurred in 3 separate incidents on June 2 and June 9, with a total seizure value of $72,338.

The seizure on June 2 for $40,080, was for a failure to report cash to Detroit CBP and for bulk cash smuggling:

2016380700084501-001-0000, Seized on 06/02/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 403; EA; Valued at $40,080.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5332

The seizures on June 9, one for $17,657, was for a failure to report; the other, for $14,601, was for failure to report cash to Detroit CBP and for an unlawful cash structuring violation.

2016380700086001-001-0000, Seized on 06/09/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 186; EA; Valued at $17,657.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

2016380700086101-001-0000, Seized on 06/09/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 175; EA; Valued at $14,601.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

As with most cases that are posted up on forfeiture.gov, the publication of the intent to forfeit the property likely represents a total failure on the part of the person whose money was seized to successfully navigate the process for getting seized back from Detroit CBP.  Administrative forfeiture is a last resort and also has the worst outcome in most cases; if any money is recovered at all, it is often far, far less than would be recovered through the administrative petition process. But, whether to file a claim or an administrative petition is a decision that should be made in consultation with your attorney.

Due to how quickly people have money seized and the representations of the seizing officers, people mistakenly believe that getting seized money back from Detroit CBP is an easy process.

Instead, it is fraught with difficulties and unforeseen challenges. Instead of risking forfeiture and the total loss of your money, do the smart thing and call us for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of the free customs money seizure legal guide we publish on this website.

U.S. Customs Confiscates $50k in Cash at Texas Airports

Customs officers confiscated a total of nearly $50,000 from international travelers at Texas airports in the last few weeks alone. Specifically, the cash seizure by customs was at San Antonio International Airport and at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The first story involves $16,000 of currency that sounds like it was structured by an adult father and daughter traveling together in order to evade the reporting requirement. The story finishes by stating that in the last fiscal year (ending October 31), CBP seized more than $81,496,161 ($81.5 million!) in undeclared or illicit currency.

San Antonio Airport picture of $16,000 in unreported currency.
San Antonio International Airport discovered a pair of travelers carrying over $16,000 in unreported currency.

On Nov. 3, CBP officers working at the San Antonio International Airport discovered a pair of travelers carrying over $16,000 in unreported currency.  The travelers, who are citizens of Mexico and traveling together, arrived separately to CBP for processing and each reported they were traveling alone.  

Both who claimed to be traveling alone and reported carrying less than $10,000. However when question furthered, the travelers, a father, 53 and his daughter 27 admitted that they were in fact traveling together.  The amount of currency discovered among their belongings added up to $16,000.   The currency was seized for failure to properly report currency in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000.

The second story involves a single traveler leaving for Argentina who reported only having $9,000, but really had more than $33,000 (tsk tsk). In addition, the money was not in a single location but was in “several envelopes stashed among his belongings.” The fact that it was stashed may give rise to bulk cash smuggling as a second ground for seizure beyond the failure to report.

Three days later at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport CBP officers seized currency from a traveler who was departing the United States head to Argentina.  The passenger reported $9,000 in his possession, however when CBP officers completed the currency verification, more than $33,400 was discovered.  The cash was found in several envelopes stashed among his belongings. CBP seized the currency.

Cash that was discovered in several envelopes stashed among belongings.
The cash was found in several envelopes stashed among his belongings. CBP seized the currency.

International travelers with negotiable monetary instruments valued at $10,000 or greater in their possession must complete a form FinCEN 105, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments according to U.S. law.  Negotiable monetary instruments include currency, personal checks that have been endorsed, travelers’ checks, gold coins, securities or stocks in bearer form.

2015 Hajj pilgrims: Declare your money!

Customs at the port of Dertroit is offering a pointed reminder to Hajj pilgrims returning to the United States; declare everything you acquired overseas, especially food and agricultural items, but most importantly declare your cash over $10,000! The Hajj ends on September 26, and pilgrims returning through Detroit Metropolitan Airport with more than $10,000 could have all their currency seized if it totals more than $10,000.

If you travel with $10,000, be sure to declare money.
If you travel with $10,000, be sure to declare money to customs.

Be extra careful and if it’s cash and it belongs to other people you are traveling with, declare it anyway and explain the situation to Customs before you get caught up in intensive questioning. Talk to those you are traveling with to see how much cash they are carrying so that you don’t failure to make a report out of ignorance, and so customs cannot accuse you of structuring. Husbands and wives… this a great time to communicate about money.

Here’s the instructions on how you can file a currency report:

All travelers are also reminded of the currency and reporting requirement found on your customs declaration (CBP Form 6059b). You may bring into or take out of the country, including by mail, as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Ask the CBP officer for the Currency Reporting Form (FinCen 105). The penalties for non-compliance can be severe. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form.

If it’s too late for you and you’ve had your money seized by Customs for failure to file a currency report, bulk cash smuggling, or a structuring violation, do not lose hope. It is possible for you to get your money back. You can find out more about how to get back seized currency by reading our article RESPONDING TO A CUSTOMS CURRENCY SEIZURE.

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, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, 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?
  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

CBP Seizes $50k at Dulles Airport en route to Qatar

U.S. Customs seized nearly $50,000 at Dulles airport from two travellers attempting to leave the country for a failure to report. Both seizures involve people flying to Qatar and significantly under-reporting the amount of currency they possessed. You can read the full story HERE:

The first seizure occurred on July 17, during an outbound international flight enforcement operation. A U.S. citizen boarding a flight to Qatar reported to CBP officers that he possessed $5,000 and completed a financial reporting form stating that amount however; a total of $23,141 was discovered on his person and in his luggage. CBP officers seized the $23,141, returning $541 to the traveler for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

The second seizure occurred on July 19, during another outbound enforcement operation. A U.S. citizen boarding a flight to Qatar Customs Seizes $39k from Nicaraguan Travelerreported to CBP officers that she possessed $6,000 and completed a financial reporting form stating that amount however; numerous envelopes of U.S. and foreign currency were discovered in her carry-on luggage totaling $26,179 (U.S. equivalent). CBP officers seized the $26,179, returning $2,247 to the traveler for humanitarian relief, and advised her how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

“Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP area port director for the Port of Washington Dulles. “The travelers were given the opportunity to truthfully report their currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”

I know it is sometimes true that truthfully reporting money is the easiest way to keep it, but I am also sure that it is not always true. I know many clients had  opportunities to report transporting more than $10,000 in money but there are who are subjected to “zealous enforcement” and asked trick questions without sufficient opportunity to make, or amend, a report.  Sometimes the philosophy of some Customs officers is to “seize first, ask questions later.”

My clients usually report intimidating behavior while they are being detained, like back-slapping, laughter, high-fiving among officers about their seizure prowess, and sometimes unfounded threats of criminal prosecution.

It is also true, as this news release says, that the easiest way to keep your currency is to report it; but Customs can still theoretically seize your money if you have under $10,000 and they think you are “structuring” to avoid to have to file a report, the money was concealed, or if you report over $10,000 but lack good documentation about the source and use of the funds, or if they believe it has some connection to criminal activity.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. 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?
  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

 

CBP Seizes $51k Cash and Make Arrest

At Miami airport, a traveler from Chile had a run in with U.S. Customs & Border Protection that resulted in a seizure of $51,777. As disclosed by the story below (full version HERE), it a resulted in an arrest, presumably for a currency reporting violation — reporting $20,000 even though he was transporting more than $50,000, and/or dividing his money between he and other travelers in what is commonly called a “structuring” violation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers at Miami International Airport (MIA) arrested a Chilean citizen Thursday for violating federal currency reporting requirements.

During a secondary inspection on July 9th, the man, who arrived from Santiago, Chile, reported possessing $20,000 USD. It was later discovered that the man had given money to three co-travelers in order to evade currency reporting requirements, an illegal practice known as currency structuring. In total, the cash added up to $51,777. CBP officers seized the money and arrested the subject. The subject and currency were turned over to Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD).

“Customs and Border Protection officers offer travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report their currency, but those who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements face severe consequences, including potential criminal charges,” said Christopher Maston, Port Director, Miami International Airport.

The only different nuance in this story which is not altogether apparent is why the currency was turned over to the local police department. Typically, Customs seizes the currency, but apparently Customs did not want to be bothered with it in this case. My hunch would be that, in this case, there was more going on (i.e., criminally) than the failure to report and structuring, which resulted in arrest and local law enforcement getting involved in the arrest and seizure.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. 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?
  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

 

 

US CBP Seizes $10.6M Cash in Caribbean in FY 2014

Last year, U.S. Customs & Border Protection — CBP — in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands seized $10.6 million dollars in unreported currency, smuggled bulk cash, or unlawful currency structuring violations. Last year I called that an overwhelming amount of seized currency.

Most of these customs currency seizures occur at airports, ferry crossings, etc. CBP for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported their annual fiscal year statistics for 2014 and this currency seizure number has more than doubled. That is more than overwhelming, it is tremendous… the story also compares currency seizures with those in California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. All areas in which drug smuggling is pervasive.

In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, CBP officers and agents seized over 51,043 pounds of narcotics with an estimated street value of approximately 650 million and seized approximately $10.6 million in unreported currency in FY 2014, which runs from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014.

But later the story says:

Furthermore, $8.4 million of currency interdictions were reported and over 80 firearms were seized.

$8.4M or $10.6M? Who’s counting over there?! And this is the same government that seizes currency for any mis-report who can’t get their facts straight for their news releases.

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?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP