$1.3 million of counterfeit currency seized in Chicago.

Image of seized currency, source: CBP.gov

Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in the Chicago International Mail Facility seized a shipment from the Ukraine containing more than $1.3 million in funny money. The exporters from the Ukraine labeled the shipment of 13,957 $100 bills as “prop money”.

While many importers believe the words or marking of currency as “prop money” means they can be imported – CBP considers any counterfeit of US currency a violation of the federal law prohibiting the reproduction of currency. CBP then turned over the money to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) for investigation.

In general, if CBP turns a case over to HSI and/or the USSS, then the importer is likely subject to criminal penalties instead of the usual civil penalties.

If you have had your currency seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$838,481 in unreported currency seized by Customs.

Image of $838k in seized currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release. CBP officers at the Roma, Texas Port of Entry seized more than $838,000 in unreported currency hidden in a vehicle heading out of the US.

As you are aware, all currency and monetary instruments $10,000 or more need to be reported. In this case, CBP officers seized stacks of cash totaling $838,481 in unreported currency concealed within a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado.

After seizing the currency – CBP referred the case to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI). In general, if your case is referred to HSI – then there is likely a criminal case.

If you have had your currency seized by Customs, contact our office immediately – there are time limits regarding the seizures – call or text David Hsu directly at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$46,000 in unreported currency seized.

Image of seized currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge Port of Entry seized over $46,000 in unreported currency.

The inspection occurred when travelers were leaving the US to Mexico. During a routine inspection, CBP officers discovered $46,000 in currency and also seized the vehicle. According to the media release – the traveler with the unreported currency was referred to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Author’s note – typically customs seizure of unreported currency are not referred out to HSI. If your currency seizure was referred to HSI, then Customs believes there is a criminal element to your seizure.

What’s the rule about traveling in and out of the country with currency?
It is legal to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or other monetary instruments when entering or exiting the US (and even if you have a layover in a US airport with no intention of entering the US).

What happens if Customs suspects I am carrying more than $10,000 in currency?
They will stop you and the party you are traveling with prior to boarding the plane. You will be given an opportunity to declare all currency and monetary instruments. You will be given a Fincen 105 form to sign. You must accurately state all the money you have. Once you sign the Fincen 105 form, CBP will search your belongings.

I received a “Notice of Seizure” and my currency was seized by CBP at the airport. What do I do?
If you receive a “Notice of Seizure” sent Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested, then you must respond or risk forfeiting all the seized funds. Typically you have 30 days from the date of the letter to respond to the seizure.

If you get a notice of seizure or if your currency was seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$190k in unreported currency seized.

Unreported currency, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers at Eagle Port performed a secondary examination on a bus traveling into Mexico. Customs used non-intrusive ways to image the contents of the vehicle and later performed a physical inspection of the bus and luggage – finding over $196,925 in currency placed in a duffle bag.

Customs seized the money because failing to declare currency or monetary instruments over $10,000 when entering or leaving the United States is a federal offense. It is also illegal to conceal money with the intent to evade reporting, or dividing money among travelers so each traveler carries less than $10,000 (“structuring”).

If you have had your currency or monetary instruments seized by Customs. Contact David Hsu by phone/text for immediate assistance at 832-896-6288. Or email David at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP seizes Chinese shipment of human hair products due to suspected use of child and forced labor.

Image of the seized hair, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of New York/Newark detained a shipment of products and accessories made with human hair today from Xinjiang, China.

The shipment was seized because of a pending “Withhold Release Order” (WRO) on hair products made by Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co. Ltd. The WRO came into effect on June 17th, in which Customs instructs each port to detain all products from certain manufacturers (in this case Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co. Ltd.). The 13 tons of seized products were worth over $800k dollars. WRO’s are typically issued if Customs reasonably believes goods are manufactured using prison labor, forced labor, made under use of excessive overtime, withholding of wages and or the restriction of movement. CBP seizes Chinese shipment of human hair products due to suspected use of child and forced labor.t. Prior to a WRO being issued, CBP will give the importer the burden of proof to show the merchandise is not manufactured using forced labor or any of the other issues previously written above.

If you are subject to a WRO, or if you are under audit for a potential WRO action – contact trade and customs attorney David Hsu immediately by mobile phone at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP seizes $351k of 道具专用 money from China.

Seized 道具专用 money from China., source: CBP.gov

I previously posted on this blog back on May 23rd about seizure of $252k in cash that was marked in red Chinese letters with the words道具专用. Which is loosely translated as “for prop use only”. Earlier this week, CBP seized an additional $351,000 in prop currency from a shipment from Shanghai, China and headed to a residence in Milwaukee.

Upon further examination, Customs seized the counterfeit currency, noting the bills all were marked with the same serial number, lack of red and blue fibers and missing the embeded watermark. Customs also noted on the back were Chinese letters on back of bills in red.

CBP only posted the image above so I do not know for sure what Chinese characters were on the back, but the words were probably the standard 道具专用, meaning “for prop use only”. While labeled for prop use only (such as in movies), CBP considers these “foreign currency notes” as counterfeit and will destroy them. One such reason is because the prop money has been successful used in all major cities at multiple retailers.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact customs seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$252,000 in “prop currency/money” seized by Customs.

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Image of seized bundles of “prop money”, source: CBP.gov

In Mid-May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Ohio seized counterfeit $100 bills totaling over $252,000. The shipment was from China to an address in Oklahoma. The package was selected for examination and an x-ray of the package showed what appears to typically be bundled currency.

Upon further inspection, CBP officers found $252,300 in cash (photo above is the actual seized currency). The currency was determined to be fake because it was printed on regular paper and had the same serial number for every bill. Additionally, on the back of the currency were the words in simplified Chinese: 道具专用 (see photo below of the actual image released by Customs).

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Image of simplified Chinese writing on the back of the $100 bill, source: CBP.gov

As an aside – simplified Chinese is the writing used in mainland China. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan all use the traditional form of writing Chinese characters.

The CBP media release explained the Chinese words as foreign writing and did not translate the words in Chinese. The words in Chinese roughly translate to “for prop use only”.

CBP says these notes are “Foreign Writing Notes” and are against Federal law and considered contraband. Sometimes they are also referred to as “motion picture, foreign writing notes”. While the currency is noted for “prop use only”, the currency is seized as the foreign notes are frequently passed off as real currency.

Just my thoughts:

  1. My guess is the person in Oklahoma was going to use the fake money for a video or movie and purchased the play money through a China-based e-commerce portal.
  2. I have never held this kind of prop currency, but maybe the writing in Chinese is erasable? The Secret Service is concerned about the importation of foreign writing notes, and probably has seen many people pass off these notes as real – perhaps the writing in Chinese can be removed?
  3. The CBP media release did not say this importation was referred to the Secret Service or HSI, CBP probably will seize the currency, issue a seizure notice. Without a referral to HSI, CBP has probably determined there was no criminal activity on the part of the importer of record in Oklahoma.

If you have had funny money, or any other of your goods seized by Customs – contact David Hsu if you have any questions – you can call/text 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Wigs and books seized for containing counterfeit currency.

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Image of wigs containing concealed cash, source: cbp.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Dallas Fort Worth port of entry found $63,000 in counterfeit currency in separate shipments from Nigeria. One shipment contained soft cover books, that upon further inspection yielded currency taped to the pages of the books. The other shipment contained wigs and hair. Upon examination, CBP officers opened the package and found currency in $50 and $100 denominations.

The media release says the counterfeit currency was turned over to the Secret Service.

Funny Money

Image of $100 bills taped to the inside of pages, source: cbp.gov

In general, currency seizures are handled by CBP. In general if your currency case is referred to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), this means Customs likely believes your seized currency is related to something criminal. If your currency seizure case is referred to the United States Secret Service (USSS), it means your currency is suspected to be counterfeit.

If your currency has been seized by CBP, HSI or the USSS, then contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP seizes $45k in unreported currency.

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Image of the seized currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, the Office of Field Operations (OFO) in Laredo seized over $45,000 in undeclared currency in a single event over the weekend.

Officers seized the currency from a new 2020 Toyota Avalon traveling to Mexico during examination. A physical inspection revealed $45,147 in undeclared currency. As a result, the vehicle and cash was seized by CBP. In this instance, the vehicle, cash and seizure was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

In general, if your seized goods are referred to HSI, then there will likely be a criminal investigation into the seized goods.

If you have had your goods seized in the Port of Laredo or any of the over 400 ports of entry into the US, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP seizes unreported currency from South Korea.

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Image of seized currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers seized $11,097 in reported currency from a passenger who arrived from South Korea to Washington Dulles International airport.

According to the media release, the passenger reported she was carrying $500. As usual, CBP officers will explain the reporting requirements. After explaining the requirements to her, she changed her declaration to $6,000. The media release doesn’t mention it – but she likely filled out the FinCen 105 form.

And as usual, after you sign the FinCen 105 form, CBP will search everything – in this instance, CBP discovered $11,097 in her baggage. CBP seized all her currency and did not give her any back for humanitarian reasons.

The reason she did not get anything back was likely because she was arriving home – CBP usually gives some money back for humanitarian reasons if the traveler is going out of the country.

If CBP has seized your currency, contact experienced currency seizure attorney David Hsu at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com or phone/text to: 832-896-6288.