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Philly CBP Seizes $34k in Unreported Currency

Release Date: 
April 30, 2013

PHILADEPHIA—International travelers who arrive or depart the United States in possession of more than $10,000 are required to report all currency to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and complete a Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) form. Those who deliberately refuse to comply with this federal currency reporting requirement face hefty consequences, from mitigated penalties to having their currency seized.

A Russian man learned that lesson the hard way after CBP officers seized $34,500 from him Thursday afternoon at Philadelphia International Airport. During a secondary examination, the Russian man claimed verbally and in writing that he possessed $9,000; however, CBP officers counted $35,000. CBP officers released $500 to the man for humanitarian relief and provided him directions on how to petition the U.S. government for the remaining currency.

CBP officers assessed a mitigated $1,000 penalty to another Russian man who arrived on the same flight. That man also reported possessing only $9,000; however CBP officers discovered a stack of bills in his baggage. All currency equaled $18,800.

"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, such as hefty penalties, or having their currency seized, or potential criminal charges," said Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the area port of Philadelphia. "The easiest way to keep your currency is to truthfully report it."

Philadelphia CBP recorded three additional currency reporting violations recently and one ended in the seizure of $17,516.

  • CBP issued a mitigated $500 penalty to an Israeli man April 18 who claimed that he possessed $10,000; however CBP officers discovered an additional $860 in his pockets.

    CBP issued a mitigated $1,000 penalty to a Swiss mother and her Israeli son April 10 after CBP officers discovered $23,146 in U.S. dollars, Swiss francs and Israeli shekels. The pair, who arrived from Switzerland, reported possessing a combined $10,100 U.S. dollars and 7,700 Swiss francs. CBP officers discovered multiple bundles of currency during a baggage examination and inside a travel pillow.

  • CBP issued a mitigated $1,000 penalty to a British man April 5 after CBP officers discovered that the man possessed $20,839 in U.S. dollars and British pounds. The man, who arrived from the United Kingdom, declared possessing only $9,000. CBP officers discovered several bundles of British pounds and two envelopes containing U.S. currency.

  • CBP seized $17,516 from a Nigerian woman who arrived March 29 after CBP officers discovered that she possessed $19,016. The woman claimed that she possessed $7,000; however CBP officers found more than $7,000 during an examination of the woman's purse. CBP officers released $1,500 to the woman for humanitarian purposes and provided the woman directions to petition for the remaining currency.

In each case involving mitigated penalties, CBP officers required the travelers to complete a FinCEN form.

There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.

In addition to narcotics interdiction, CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture products or other illicit items.

Travelers are encouraged to visit CBP's Travel website to learn rules governing travel to and from the U.S.

The Privacy Act prohibits releasing the travelers' names since they were not criminally charged.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017