Tag: structuring

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

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

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

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

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

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

If your money was seized by CBP/customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page (see our case results here). Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles about money seizures by customs:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case
  14. Understanding CBP’s Election of Proceedings Form

Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations

This is an article about the statute of limitations for currency reporting violations (failure to report monetary instruments over $10,000, bulk cash smuggling, and structuring); in other words, how soon after an offense is committed (or when the currency is seized) that the government must bring criminal charges against you before they are prevented by the statute of limitations. If you want to skip to that part and don’t want to learn some fascinating facts about the most intact T-Rex skeleton ever found, and how one of its discoverers was pursued by the government for allegedly failing to report a currency and monetary instruments over $10,000, scroll down to the next heading.

Currency Reporting Violations and Sue the Dinosaur

Like a lot of grown men, I was fascinated with dinosaurs as a kid. So those kind of headlines still catch my eye. The other day I came across this CNN story — a saga really — about the discovery of the “most intact T-rex skeleton ever found” back in 1990 (“Sue“). To sum things up, shortly after the fossil was discovered FBI agents, accompanied by the national guard, seized the fossil because it was, they alleged, on Indian Trust land (read: under Federal government jurisdiction). The

Sue the Dinosaur

ownership of the dinosaur, and allegations that the people involved with the discovery had stolen and sold dinosaur fossils found on public land, were in the courts for years.

But as I read the story, I was intrigued to read that one of the people responsible for the discovery of the dinosaur “served 18 months in federal prison for customs violations” unrelated to the dinosaur discovery. I thought it must have had something to do with the importation of dinosaur fossils like happened in Detroit a few years ago, which I blogged about. But not so. Looking into the matter further, I discovered this 1996 article from the New York Times that explains the customs violations were for failing to report the transport of more than $10,000 into or out of the United States:

…Mr. Larsen was convicted of two felonies — failure to report to American customs officials $31,700 in travelers checks he had brought from Japan, and failure to report $15,000 in cash he took to Peru.

Oops! The story basically says that, of 153 charges in a 39 count indictment brought against him by the Federal government, these currency reporting violations and some misdemeanors related to the sale of fossils valued at less than $100 is what stuck. In the context of the fiasco about the dinsoaur bones, winding up getting criminally charged with failure to report currency being transported in excess of $10,000 seems kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?

What’s the statute of limitations of currency reporting violations?

This story was just the occasion for me write about the statute of limitations for currency reporting violations (failure to report, bulk cash smuggling, and unlawful structuring that often result in currency seizures). The statute of limitations for currency reporting violations under 31 USC §§ 5316, 5324 and 5332 is found in 18 USC § 3282(a), which states:

Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, no person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for any offense, not capital, unless the indictment is found or the information is instituted within five years next after such offense shall have been committed.

That means once the event giving rise to the violation has occurred, the government has 5 years from that date to bring criminal charges against you.

My customs currency seizure clients often want to know: is failing to report currency a crime? Yes, it is, and it is punishable by a fine of $250,000 to $500,000 and 5 to 10 years in jail. But I also tell them that if they were not arrested at the time the currency was seized, and the U.S. Attorney was notified and declined to prosecute you, they probably will not face criminal charges.

But just because you weren’t arrested and charged immediately still means it could happen up to 5 years later.

Keep Calm and Declare Monetary Instruments Exceeding $10,000 USD

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?

 

CBP Seized an Average of $650k from Travelers Each Day in 2014

U.S. Customs & Border Protection released its annual Border Security Report which you can read in full HERE (pdf).  With respect to customs money seizures for failure to report amounts over $10,000 (or, bulk cash smuggling, or structuring), the numbers are staggering. The report states that “the agency seized more than $237 million in unreported currency through targeted enforcement operations.” That’s an average of almost $650,000 per day. It breaks down the number for four southwest states:cbp money confiscation

  • Arizona = $3,475,523
  • Texas = $7,732,830
  • New Mexico = $969,830
  • California = $12,908,976

Detroit and other Midwestern ports should be publishing their numbers soon. If you have had money seized by customs call our office at  (734) 855-4999 or CONTACT US BY CLICKING HERE to speak to a customs lawyer. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.

Having an attorney is especially important if more than one person was travelling and the seizure was of cash, there are allegations of smuggling, or structuring, or if you experienced a lengthy detention or questioning at the time of seizure. We handle this and many other types of cases, which we publish the results of here.  Read our popular article on responding to a currency seizure by clicking HERE.

Please read these other articles about money seizures by customs:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures

CBP Reminds Public About Currency Reporting Requirement

In the past month we have reported on two violations of the currency reporting requirements that resulted in seizure of money by U.S. Customs & Border Protection at the CBP pre-clearance station in Nassau, Bahamas. Those stories are HERE and HERE. Now we have a “reminder” about the “Currency Reporting Requirement” from that same pre-clearance station, which is excerpted below.

If you have had money seized by customs call our office at  (734) 855-4999 or CONTACT US BY CLICKING HERE to speak to a customs lawyer. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.cbp money seizure

NASSAU, Bahamas—U.S. Customs and Border Protection reminds travelers of the requirement to report currency amounts of $10,000 or more to CBP when traveling to or from the United States.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the United States; however, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP (note: like the money seizure story HERE). If travelers have someone else carry the currency or monetary instrument for them, they must file a currency report for the entire amount with (note: like the structuring story HERE). Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

“The easiest way for travelers to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it all to a CBP officer,” said Robert Allen Smith, area port director for Nassau Preclearance.

There’s a lot of great reasons why you should hire our firm, but one of them is that we know the law: you may not know the law, and oftentimes, as this article shows, customs does not know the law.  Annoyingly, this CBP news release, like many, gets the law wrong. 31 USC 5316(a)(1), the law that gives CBP the authority to seize money and monetary instruments which are not reported, clearly says that a report is required if only if “more than $10,000” is transported, not $10,000 “or more”.

Having an attorney is especially important if more than one person was travelling and the seizure was of cash, there are allegations of smuggling, or structuring, or if you experienced a lengthy dentetion or questioning at the time of seizure. We handle this and many other types of cases, which we publish the results of here.  Read our popular article on responding to a currency seizure by clicking HERE.

Please read these other articles about money seizures by customs:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures

 

CBP Seizes Currency after Admission of Structuring Violations

Lady luck, like fortune, is fickle. This man’s luck — and his casino winnings — disappeared at the border when he encountered Customs, who confiscated his winnings.

The guy had some cash from casino winnings confiscated by Customs while gambling in the Bahamas. He was en route to the United States, when he decided to break the law. Apparently fearing the unknown, he decided to divide the money up among 5 people so he would not have to file a currency report.That’s illegal structuring.

When Customs asked him why he divided up the money, he said it was so he did not have to file a currency report (FinCen 105). That’s an admission of illegal structuring. Law enforcement didn’t have to do any other work to confiscate casino winnings or hard earned money if you admit you violated the law.

Here are the details of the case of the “casino winnings” confiscated by Customs:

Nassau, BAHAMAS –U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nassau CBP Preclearance facility seized $63,851 in unreported currency from a U.S. citizen who was subsequently arrested by the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Dec. 8.

CBP officers at the Nassau Preclearance facility referred five male U.S. citizens for a secondary inspection after they each declared to be in possession of $9,000 U.S. dollars. Three men were en Customs Classification and Valuationroute to JFK and two men were en route to Newark.

Upon further questioning, one of the passengers admitted that he divided about $52,000 among his co-travelers in an attempt to circumvent currency reporting requirements. CBP officers were informed that the passengers’ currency was the result of legal casino winnings in the Bahamas. During the secondary inspection, CBP officers determined that the passenger who won the money in the casino also failed to declare the purchase of an $8,000 watch for which duty was assessed and collected.CBP officers seized a total of $63,851 in unreported currency.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers provided this traveler multiple opportunities to accurately report all of his currency,” said Area Port Director for Nassau Preclearance Robert Allen Smith. “He ultimately admitted that he had divided his currency among his friends in an attempt to circumvent the law, and all of his currency was seized. The easiest way for travelers to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it all to a CBP officer.”

The RBPF was notified of the false declaration and responded with interest to prosecute. The circumventing passenger was arrested by RBPF upon the conclusion of CBP seizure processing. RBPF took custody of the passenger and the evidence. The remaining four individuals were released without further incident.

So that it is, Customs confiscated the cash and then turned him over to the Royal Bahamas’ Police Force for prosecution. This is all the more of a sad story because there is nothing illegal about winning some money while gambling, and nothing illegal about bringing it into the United States. It’s very likely that this man could get the money out of Customs custody, but of course, he’ll still have to deal with the criminal charges from the RBPF.

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