Customs stole a US citizen's life savings when he boarded a domestic flight, now he's suing to get it back

Originally published at:


This needs to stop.

Alternately, this needs to be applied to Real Estate magnates.


This violation can happen to anyone in a civil-rights border grey zone, and that zone is growing every day:

[this does not include international airports in the U.S. interior, which would cover the country further]

This story describes a very disturbing de facto scenario of search-and-seizures of legitimate assets at U.S. border exit points* involving an easily abused rule (civil forfeiture), an illegitimately deputised force of CBP (the TSA), and the aforementioned grey zone where CBP can do what they like with impunity. It’s the sort of thing one expects from kleptocratic authoritarian regimes, so I suppose the only unsurprising thing is that it’s happening now.

[* not that he’d technically exited the country yet]


Yea, but these things never involve real Americans. They’re always hyphenated-Americans from shithole countries like… we all know which ones, wink wink.


If given enough latitude by the regime they’ll make your life miserable if you dare criticise the TSA or ICE (or their patron in the White House) even if you are white and native-born.


Criticize? You mean, as if they had made mistakes? Or as if their policies weren’t Just Right for America? What are you writing, some crazy kind of science fiction?


Isn’t this the crime known as grand theft? What about criminal charges?


Updated for generality.


This is what Bitcoin is for.
Purchase Bitcoin legitimately from your bank account to Coinbase. Travel with just a toothbrush and a comb. Transfer Bitcoin to the seller directly if possible, or transfer from Coinbase to your Albanian bank account.

Bitcoin is perfect for avoiding corrupt shitholes, apparently like the U.S.A.


“Perfect” would include also having a pretty good idea how much your money would be worth when your flight landed.


No, it happens to white people too. Professional gamblers have been taking precautions against being robbed by law enforcement for decades. I’ve been stopped and illegally searched by Border Patrol agents (75 miles from the border) and threatened with seizure of my cash. It sucked. And I’m a white guy in his 40s.

(Of course, that isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen disproportionately to people of color… or that my color, fluency with English, and familiarity with the law weren’t a factor in why they only threatened to rob me and didn’t actuallly do it.)


…or you could just wire the money to your Albanian bank account. I like Bitcoin, and I use it myself, but it doesn’t add much in this scenario.


Do you even lift, bro?

OK, one thing the article does not make clear: Anyone taking any amount of cash or certain negotiable instruments to the value of over $10,000 is required to file a very simply little form before they leave the country.

It’s very similar to one you routinely fill out when you enter the country.

Did he do this? Yes or no. If no, there’s no question the original search and seizure was legal.

If he was checked through to Albania, that really wasn’t a domestic flight. I am retired and am not sure exactly when he’d be expected to file the form but he may have blown it.

“There is no limit on the amount of money that can be taken out of or brought into the United States. However, if a person or persons traveling together and filing a joint declaration (CBP Form 6059-B) have more than $10,000 in currency or negotiable monetary instruments, they must fill out a “Report of International Transportation of Currency and Monetary Instruments” FinCEN 105 (former CF 4790).”

I’m not savvy enough to comment on the rest of the mess regarding their not filing a formal claim, I think someone goofed and they need to follow the law and hand the money back doulbe quick but I am no legal scholar on that.

But the initial onus is on the traveler to do things properly.


From the Washington Post article:

CBP also noted that there are disclosure requirements for traveling internationally with sums of cash greater than $10,000. “Failure to declare monetary instruments in amounts more than $10,000 can result in fines or forfeiture and could result in civil and or criminal penalties,” the statement said.

Hottot said Kazazi was well aware of those requirements and planned to file his disclosure form during his four-hour layover in Newark. The form instructs travelers to file the paperwork “at the time of departure from the United States with the Customs officer in charge at any Customs port of entry or departure.”

“If he’s going to follow the law on this, he’s going to have to do it in Newark on the way out of the country,” Hottot said.


Curious observation: why doesn’t the border zone run across the north edge of Lake Michigan? That’s where the border is.

Never mind, this line suits the Border cops better.

1 Like

Yes, that was what Bitcoin was supposed to be for.


The article does say that wiring the money can be dangerous due to the risk of being robbed when you pick up the cash.