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CBP Intercepts Black Money Scam at Philadelphia International Airport

Release Date: 
July 24, 2014

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers made an alarming discovery at Philadelphia International Airport July 16, when they discovered stacks of currency used in a black money scam.

CBP officers discovered the “black notes,” which consisted of 100 sheets each of $100, $50, and $20 U.S. notes during a routine baggage examination of a 34-year-old Cameroon man. The notes were bound in three books similarly to check books and appeared as blank white paper to the naked eye. But under black light, CBP officers detected faint images that resembled U.S. currency.

Black notes are generally completely black or dark blue. It is rare to encounter blank white sheets.

Transnational criminal organizations sell black notes to conspirators at a percentage of face value and instruct the conspirators which specific chemicals to use to “wash” the currency. The conspirators are told that washing the notes will transform them into counterfeit U.S. currency. No amount of washing will allow the notes to appear legitimate.

“This interception significantly illustrates Customs and Border Protection’s commitment to protecting American consumers and businesses against transnational financial crimes by intercepting these black money scams at our nation’s ports of entry,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “CBP officers take our job of protecting our homeland and our economy very seriously.”

The man, who described himself as a police officer in Cameroon, was destined to Newark, Del. After interviews with federal law enforcement officials, no charges were filed against the man. He admitted that he was unaware of the contents and that he was delivering the package for someone he knew.

Foreign nationals routinely courier products to third parties in the United States; however, CBP reminds all travelers that they are accountable for everything in their possession, legal or otherwise. Violators face consequences, including monetary fines, criminal prosecution, or refusal of admission to the United States and returned home.

Since the Cameroon man is a foreign national, CBP refused his admission and ordered him removed.

CBP maintains a robust law enforcement posture at our nation’s 328 international ports of entry and routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international travelers and cargo. In addition to arresting wanted fugitives, CBP removes immigration law violators, and intercepts narcotics, weapons, unreported currency, prohibited agriculture products, and other illicit items.

Visit CBP’s Travel section to learn rules governing travel to and from the U.S.

Visit CBP’s Border Security section to learn more about how CBP secures our nation’s borders at our air, land and sea ports of entry.