$101k in unreported money seized by Customs.

Seized funds from Ethiopian traveler, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at the Dulles International Airport seized over $101,000 in undeclared, unreported currency. This currency seizure is unique from my usual posts because the traveler had their currency seized when entering the US. The traveler arrived from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and upon entry declared he was in possession of $2,000 in currency. The $2,000 total later because $2,300 prior to CBP officers searching his baggage for a second time. Ultimately, a search by CBP revealed over $100,000 inside a plastic bag. While Customs seized over $101,000 from the traveler – they returned $1,995 for “humanitarian purposes”.

To make matters worse for the traveler, CBP officers determined the traveler from Ethiopia was not eligible to enter the US because he was flagged as a prior Visa Waiver Program violator. In general, a visa waiver program violator is someone who previously entered the US without a visa, and then over stayed the allotted time. The US and certain countries allow citizens of other countries to enter into the US visa free for a period of 60 or 90 days. This privilege is only extended to countries that also allow US citizens to enter their country without a visa. Unfortunately for this traveler, he previously overstayed his visa, and left the US after the visa free period expired – therefore being flagged as a visa waiver program violator.

As the traveler was not eligible to enter into the US, his currency was seized and he was sent on the next flight back to Ethiopia.

Can customs seize money from travelers entering the US?
This instant seizure is a perfect example of a question we frequently receive from our clients – can CBP seize funds from non-US citizens entering the US? And the short answer is yes, any individual crossing the border is required to declare any funds over $10,000 in their possession.

Are you overseas and have had your funds seized by US Customs?
If so, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate assistance. We represent travelers world wide and can help you get your money back.

If you or anyone you know has had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime day or night at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on any part of this blog as legal advice. Instead, seek out the advice of a licensed attorney. Also, this information may be out-of-date.

Massive amount of counterfeit coins and fake $100 bills seized by Customs.

Images of seized $100 bills, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP in Chicago seized 279 parcels containing multiple denominations in coin currency. The shipment consisted of 88 packages containing 2,020 coins with subsequent seizures containing 93 packages and over 2,548 coins. The third and fourth seizure contained 52 parcels of 908 counterfeit coins and 46 parcels containing 1,191 coins. CBP reports most of the coins were collector items bearing images of a buffalo, bald eagle or native Americans stamped on the coins. The packages were seized on suspicion of being counterfeit.

In addition to coins, CBP also seized multiple packages containing $149,200 and $9,700 in counterfeit 100 dollar bills. While the shipments were manifested as “bar props”, CBP still seized the counterfeit currency because copying Federal Reserve notes is a federal offense.

I often see counterfeit $100 bills for sale on popular online shopping websites that rhyme with “dish” located in China and selling play money labeled as “prop money”. If you are the importer of record, CBP may (likely will) seize the fake money, even if the words “prop money” are written on the face of the bill, the currency is still a copy of real currency and therefore illegal to import.

If you have had your goods seized, whether it is collector coins from China or copies of $100 bills, contact David Hsu by phone text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com anytime for immediate assistance.

CBP seizes $91,000 in currency – could you be next?

$91,000+ in seized currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at the Larredo, Texas Juarez-Lincoln Bridge seized $91,000 in unreported currency from a 30-year old male US citizen headed to Mexico.

When the male driver’s 2017 Chevrolet Equinox was referred to secondary inspection, CBP found $91,116 in undeclared US currency. This press release indicates CBP turned the case over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

In general, if your currency case is referred from CBP to Homeland Security, they believe the source of the funds may be from illegal activity and you will need to prepare a very strong seizure petition if you want your currency returned (minus a remission fee).

If you have had your hard-earned currency seized, contact David Hsu for immediate assistance at 832-896-6288 by phone or text. You can also email anytime at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Currency hidden in sanitary napkins seized by Customs.

Seized currency contained inside sanitary pad packaging – source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized over $60,000 from a female traveler heading to Amsterdam in early February. According to the release, the traveler was stopped by CBP officers who conducted an outbound examination. During examination, the traveler indicated she only had $1,000, but during a subsequent inspection CBP officers found bundles of cash inside envelopes, further hidden inside packaging used for containing sanitary napkins (see photo above from the CBP media release).

CBP officers seized the currency for violating currency reporting requirements – which require all travelers leaving and entering the US to declare currency over $10,000.

If you are traveling – be sure to report any amounts over $10,000 – which includes foreign currency, foreign coins, traveler’s checks, money orders, negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form – if you aren’t sure – give me a call – 832-896-6288.

The media release did not say whether a portion of the $60,000 was returned to the traveler for humanitarian reasons – so my guess is Customs kept the entire sum.

If you have had your hard-earned cash seized by Customs, contact David Hsu immediately – your time may be running out. Call/text 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

San Ysidro CBP officers seize $1 million in currency bound for Mexico.

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Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release – on December 9th, CBP officers stopped a vehicle traveling to Mexico for further inspection. During the inspection by the CBP canine team, the dog alerted CBP to the driver’s side quarter panel of the car.

Further inspection by CBP officers found many wrapped packages containing unreported US currency in the quarter panels, under the rear seat of the third row and the cargo area.

The media release doesn’t go into further details other than writing the cash was seized.

Typically, US media releases would mention the case was referred to Homeland Security Investigations – the criminal investigation arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

If you have had your currency seized by Customs, call David Hsu now at 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate help. You typically only have 30 days to respond to a currency seizure.

$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.

$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 $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.