$72,000 in undeclared currency seized from traveler.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release, CBP officers at Orlando International Airport (MCO) seized over $72,000 in currency from a traveler who failed to declare the entire amount of the currency they were carrying.

The traveler initially said they were only in possession of $15,000.00. CBP officers then presented the traveler with a Fincen form in which the traveler wrote the amount of $51,000. After further inspection, CBP officers discovered additional bundles of cash inside a backpack – leading to a seizure of $72,000 in currency.

If you are ever presented with a Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) form, you must write down the accurate amount of currency you are carrying (including checks, money orders, foreign currency and other monetary instruments).

Violations of the reporting requirements typically lead to a seizure of the currency and may lead to involvement by HSI – resulting in your arrest. If you have had your currency seized by CBP, contact experienced currency seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP seizes prohibited fertilizer from Mexico.

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Bottle of seized fertilizer, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Baltimore along with agriculture specialists detained two travelers from California carrying a bottle of what was declared as “organic liquid fertilizer” containing soil, compost, ashes and cattle manure.
As soil may contain invasive pests and other items such as weed seeds and fungal and bacterial diseases, US agriculture specialists tested the fertilizer. Since cattle manure poses an agriculture threat for cattle diseases, it is not allowed entry into the US unless an import permit and certificate the manure was properly treated.
If you have had a customs or CBP seizure and want your items back, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

5,200 counterfeit refrigerator water filters seized.

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Image of seized water filters, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), CBP officers at LA/Long Beach port seized 5,202 counterfeit refrigerator water filters that if genuine would have an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $224,202.

The counterfeit filters contained trademarks registered by Brita, GE, Frigidaire, PUR and NSF Certification. As you are aware, trademark owners can register their trademark and CBP will seize infringing use of such trademarks.

The filters were shipped from China and were to be delivered to an address in Washington.

If you or anyone you know has had a shipment seized for suspected infringement of trademarks, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Counterfeit e-cigarettes seized by CBP.

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According to a US Customs and Border Protection media release, CBP officers in Phliadelphia seized 300 counterfeit Juul e-cigarette pods. The counterfeit brands were Eonsmoke and VGOD branded cigarette pods of various flavors from Hong Kong. 
After the pods were seized, CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Centers evaluated the goods and verified they were counterfeit. The fake e-cigarettes have a MSRP of $11,500 if authentic. This seizure follows an April seizure of 1,152 counterfeit Juul pods.
As with any media release on counterfeit goods, CBP was quick to point out the dangers of counterfeit goods – especially products such as e-cigarettes which have the potential to damage the health of the users.
If you or someone you know has had a counterfeit seizure, contact experienced customs attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP seizes $3.4 million worth of counterfeit luxury goods.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release, CBP officers in Los Angeles seized handbags, belts, shoes, watches, electronics and other counterfeit items from brands such as Hermes, Fendi, Gucci, Versace, Casio and Samsung from a shipment originating from Hong Kong.

Import specialists stopped the shipment and seized over 5,300 counterfeit products that have an estimated MSRP of $3,475,000. The seizures included 1,242 counterfeit Gucci belts, 678 counterfeit Nike shoes, 531 counterfeit Louis Vuitton, 500 counterfeit Samsung adaptors and 502 counterfeit Gucci fanny packs among other items.

If you have had items seized by Customs due to suspicion of being counterfeit, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

US imposes 400% duties on steel imports from Vietnam.

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In early July, the Commerce Deparatement said certain products produced in South Korea and Taiwan were sent to Vietnam for minor processing before being exported to the US. The steel included corrosion-resistant stell and cold-rolled steel. The Commerce department imposed duty rates as high as 456.23% on imports from Vietnam if they were using material from South Korea or Taiwan.

While Vietnam has been benefitting from the increased duties against Chinese goods – Vietnam’s shared border with China helps the supply chain for manufacturers who go south of the border to avoid the 301 China duties.

However, Trump was quoted as saying Vietnam as the ““almost the single-worst abuser of everybody”, a statement viewed as a potential hint of the next target of his sanctions.

Vietnam is not alone in having companies “tranship” goods through Vietnam to avoid paying tariffs. CBP is also investigating six American companies for evading anti-dumping duties who importing carbon steel pipe fittings through Cambodia.

If you have any questions about anti-dumping, or would like to know how to reducing AD/CVD duties or under investigation for transshipment. Contact experienced antidumping attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP seizes $1.6 Million inside Propane Gas Tank.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release – officers along with other federal partners under the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) in Puerto Rico found and seized $1.6 million in undeclared currency inside a large propane gas tank on a disabled vessel found drifting near the coast of Cabo Rojo.

The report states: “On May 23, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan requested assistance from a CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Marine Patrol Unit for a reported disabled vessel. The AMO marine unit found the vessel dead in the water 16 miles southwest of Cabo Rojo, with two men from the Dominican Republic on-board.

The vessel and its occupants were navigating to to Santo Domingo from the British Virgin Islands, when the vessel’s engine failed.

The AMO unit towed the vessel to the Mayaguez port where a CBP Field Operations Officer (CBPO) conducted an inspection.

A CBP canine alerted to the presence of a familiar odor from a large propane gas tank. Inside the tank the CBPO, AMO agent and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents discovered large sums of U.S. currency.

The undeclared currency totaled $1,638,700.”

Our firm does handle currency seizures – however, in this instance, this would be a tough case to demonstrate a legitimate source and legitimate use of the funds:

1. The cash was found hidden in a propane gas tank, not exactly a place where you normally keep money and forget to report.

2. $1.6 million is a lot of currency, the two arrested individuals would need to prove to CBP the money was legitimate.

3. In addition to showing the funds were obtained legally, the individuals also have to show a legitimate use for the funds.

4. Homeland Security Investigations got involved, HSI typically does not get involved in currency seizures unless they believe the funds are related to criminal activity.

Here are a few quick tips to avoid currency seizures:

1. The $10,000 limit applies to everyone you are traveling with – not per individual.

2. You must report any amount over $10,000 whether you are entering, transiting or leaving the US.

3. It doesn’t matter what currency you have, all currency from anywhere in the world, checks, traveler’s checks, etc. have to be reported.

4. Canine will be able to detect the currency regardless where you try to hide it.

5. If you are asked to declare how much you are carrying, answer truthfully before you sign the FinCen form.

Questions?

Call David Hsu if you have any questions, 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$270,000 worth of counterfeit luxury hats seized by Customs.

Images of the seized hats. Source: CBP media release website.

According to a Customs media release, Dulles Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized 450 counterfeit hats worth about $207,000 if they were the genuine articles. The hats were seized as they arrived from Washington Dulles International airport destined for US addresses.

The shipment of hats contained brands such as Gucci, Chanel, LV, Supreme, Adidas and Louis Vuitton.

If you have had a seizure of goods suspected of being counterfeit, contact experienced customs seizure attorney David Hsu at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, or text/call 832.896.6288.

CNBC says US China trade war increases the amount of counterfeits – true or false?

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CNBC reports that the US China trade war could lead to an increase in counterfeit goods for 3 reasons:

(1) Flooding of products where CBP cannot catch all fakes, especially through shipments of e-packets which weigh 4 pounds or less. The article says the port at JFK receives 120,000 e-packets a day.

(2) Counterfeiters using 3D printing to create “super fakes” that are very similar to the legitimate product.

(3) Counterfeiters hijacking well known brands on e-commerce sites by filing a document with the trademark office of an email address change. Once the email address change is approved, they go to Amazon to have them recognize their email as the legitimate source and take down the legitimate product.

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Here’s my thoughts on this:

1. E-Packet shipments have already been overwhelming CBP for the past 2 years or longer. A 2017 CBP report already mentioned the influx in e-packet delivery as causing more counterfeit goods to slip through.

2. The trade war and increase in these small shipments are not related. The rise in e-packet delivery is due to websites such as alibaba, dhgate, wish and all the other e-commerce platforms that allow US consumers to buy direct from Chinese manufacturers.

3. There is some confusion with buyers in the US who cite Customs Directive No. 2310-011A. This directive allows individuals to bring in (1) one counterfeit article, (2) for personal use, (3) not for sale and (4) it is declared. Some people confuse the directive as allowing shipments of counterfeit goods to be delivered to someone in the US. However, the directive says that the counterfeit good/gray market good must “accompany” you and therefore it cannot be sent.

4. I have to disagree with the article about the use of 3-D technology to create counterfeit goods. Most counterfeit items from China are from the same factory that produces the legitimate product. Sometimes the companies change vendors, leaving the previous vendor with the same tooling, product specifications and know-how to create the same product as the legitimate product (althought lacking the license to do so).

5. There isn’t a need for 3-D printing of counterfeit goods. The fake Otterbox is probably manufactured by the previous OEM manufacturer in which Otterbox sourced their products.

6. Item 3 about Amazon – the CNBC article actually says there has never been a confirmed example of this happening. The main reason is because Amazon will always email the previous email address to verify a request for a change of email was actually filed. The article says an attorney has had 15-16 instances of this happening but there has been no actual success by a counterfeiter.

I don’t see a correlation between the trade war and increase in counterfeit goods. There will always be a demand for counterfeit goods, and any country will have an incentive to supply such demand – trade war or not.

If you received a letter from customs seizing your merchandise because they believe the goods are counterfeit – contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email: dh@gjatradelaw.com or David’s catch-all email: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP Officers seize counterfeit iPhones.

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Photo of seized iPhones at Pembina. Source: cbp.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers at the Pembina officers seize counterfeit iPhones at the Pembina Port of Entry in North Dakota.

The iPhones were seized for being in violation of intellectual property rights (IPR) regulations. The shipment contained 39 cell phones with the Apple trademark and have a retail price of $31,200.

The rest of the media release talks about CBP enforcing intellectual property, how counterfeit goods funds criminal activity, and counterfeit goods may be made out of materials that are harmful to the health and safety of the users..

The article didn’t go into detail, but here are a few other things you should know from my handling of iPhone seizures:

  1. Usually the violation is for a counterfeit use of the iPhone wordmark or the Apple logo. The “Notice of Seizure” will tell you what was violated. You have to read this carefully and must respond within 30 days to a notice of seizure.
  2. You will also get a letter from Apple’s law firm asking you to stop importing iPhone goods.
  3. Be sure your address is current and accurate with CBP, they will only mail notices to the address on the shipment.
  4. If you get a Seizure Notice, you have 4 options: file a petition, offer in compromise, abandon the goods or refer to court.
  5. The value of the iPhones given by CBP will be much higher than you paid, as I believe they value the goods at the MSRP at the time they are first released.
  6. Why does the value matter? The value of the goods will be used to calculate any penalties. For example, civil penalties may be 3x the value of the shipment.
  7. CBP and Customs problems don’t go away – CBP has 5 years to go after an importer. CBP isn’t going away and neither will your seizure.

If you have had your shipment of iPhones seized, contact me. I’ve represented many cell phone importers of iPhones, Samsung and their accessories and there are things we can do but time is of the essence.

Contact me at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.