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Old 05-09-2018, 12:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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She saved thousands to open medical clinic in Nigeria US Customs took all of it

She saved thousands to open a medical clinic in Nigeria. U.S. Customs took all of it at the airport.


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Anthonia Nwaorie spent years saving up thousands of dollars to open a medical clinic in Nigeria, where she was born. Finally, last October, she walked down a jet bridge at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to board the plane to get there.

The 59-year-old registered nurse had more than $37,000 in her carry-on bag and $4,000 in her purse. It was all cash, stowed in separate envelopes, some of it earmarked to help ill or aging family members. In her checked luggage she packed medical supplies and over-the-counter medication, which she planned to use to provide free basic care and checkups to anyone who needed it.

But she wouldn’t make it there. Just as she was about to board the flight to Nigeria, agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped her.
“How many people are you carrying money for?” an agent asked her, she recalled in an interview with The Washington Post. “How many people are you traveling with?”

Before Nwaorie couldn't even open her mouth, she said, the agent asked another question: “How long have you been in the United States?”
The questioning threw her off guard. She explained she had legally earned the money and she was alone. Nwaorie, who lives in Katy, Tex., became a U.S. citizen since 1994. She showed her passport, thinking perhaps they were questioning her legal status. The agents took her to a room to search her and her luggage anyway.

Then they seized all $41,377 dollars.

“It was like I was a criminal,” she said. “I felt so humiliated, so petrified, too. They were talking among themselves, saying how ‘this is how people smuggle money out of the country. This is how they do it.’”

More than six months later, Customs and Border Protection still has not given back her money.

This, despite the fact that the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of Texas did not bring a civil asset forfeiture case against her or charge her with any crime. The infraction she committed was failing to declare the money to Customs before traveling. According to the agency’s website, “there is no limit on the amount of money that can be taken out” of the country, but if a traveler is carrying more than $10,000 in currency they must fill out a declaration, a rule she said she did not know existed.

The agency told her in April it would give back her money under one condition: that she give up her right to sue the federal government. It’s called a “hold-harmless agreement.” The condition, her attorney says, violates Nwaorie’s basic First Amendment rights to petition the government for grievances.

Nwaorie didn’t sign it, deciding to sue instead.
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Old 05-09-2018, 03:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 05-09-2018, 03:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I question how anyone in this day and age doesn't know about the $10,000 rule. Even if you have been living under a rock and have not come across it in a movie or some pop culture, it very clearly says it on airlines websites about what baggage is acceptable and there are even signs in the airport that state it.
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Old 05-09-2018, 06:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Carrying that much money seems questionable from a personal safety standpoint. Surely there must be an American bank with a branch in Nigeria. The safer thing to do would be to draw from her account once she reached the country, and in smaller amounts to cover immediate needs.
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Old 05-09-2018, 06:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Carrying that much money seems questionable from a personal safety standpoint.
Very true. You're at great risk of being robbed by a bunch of criminal thugs...

Oh, wait.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Summer Haas View Post
I question how anyone in this day and age doesn't know about the $10,000 rule. Even if you have been living under a rock and have not come across it in a movie or some pop culture, it very clearly says it on airlines websites about what baggage is acceptable and there are even signs in the airport that state it.
Most of those signs are placed air-side of the customs border for the attention of inbound travelers, and the airline information is slanted that way too as, unlike outbound where all you have to do is declare it but there is no other limiting factor, inbound currency is subject to duty. When I worked in the USA part of my time was spent at the 2nd-largest corporate travel provider in the world (only Amex was bigger) and I knew about the outbound rules only because some companies still utilize "financial couriers" who can be carrying not necessarily currency but other negotiable instruments worth millions of dollars and our software had to print out the required forms when a couriers travel was booked. If you were to ask most inexperienced travelers and even some experienced ones I'd bet a substantial fraction of them would admit ti believing that large sums of currency, like anything else "over the limit" is something to declare at your destination to that countries customs officers, not on your way out.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Summer Haas View Post
I question how anyone in this day and age doesn't know about the $10,000 rule. Even if you have been living under a rock and have not come across it in a movie or some pop culture, it very clearly says it on airlines websites about what baggage is acceptable and there are even signs in the airport that state it.
The article is the first I have ever heard of it. Not everyone is a frequent flyer.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Carrying that much money seems questionable from a personal safety standpoint. Surely there must be an American bank with a branch in Nigeria. The safer thing to do would be to draw from her account once she reached the country, and in smaller amounts to cover immediate needs.
You never get those spammy phishing emails from "Nigerian banks" do you.
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Old 05-09-2018, 08:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The article is the first I have ever heard of it. Not everyone is a frequent flyer.
This is the first I heard of the $10,000 rule as well, but I was well aware that authorities like to seize large sums of money without trial or charge. Never mind that it is a very blatant violation of the 4th amendment.

I'm not justifying it, just saying I thought it was common knowledge this might happen.
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Old 05-10-2018, 11:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Netflix has shows on American (and Australian, Canadian) customs enforcement. Did you know they employ money-sniffing dogs? Anyways, well worth watching.
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Old 05-10-2018, 11:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Old 05-10-2018, 02:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Very true. You're at great risk of being robbed by a bunch of criminal thugs...

Oh, wait.

The irony is not lost on this incident, but she might be lucky that the thug was US customs. At least she has a chance of getting the money back. Any other country or an actual criminal and the money would likely be gone for good, not to mention the risk to her life. It really does sound like poor planning and research on her part.

I don't think she will have a successful lawsuit and she will probably lose a lot of the money as a result of suing. Hopefully she is suing out of principle because she feels the system is wrong, and not suing to try to get a windfall of cash. US Customs has a pretty broad authority for asset seizure, so I would bet the courts are going to rule in favor of US Customs on the seizure. The release agreement sounds like every single TOS for any software or transaction. Something tells me it will hold up against a court case too.
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Old 05-10-2018, 07:17 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The irony is not lost on this incident, but she might be lucky that the thug was US customs...
Is directly contradicted by everything you say here...

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I don't think she will have a successful lawsuit and she will probably lose a lot of the money as a result of suing. Hopefully she is suing out of principle because she feels the system is wrong, and not suing to try to get a windfall of cash. US Customs has a pretty broad authority for asset seizure, so I would bet the courts are going to rule in favor of US Customs on the seizure. The release agreement sounds like every single TOS for any software or transaction. Something tells me it will hold up against a court case too.
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Old 05-10-2018, 07:42 PM   #14 (permalink)
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You never get those spammy phishing emails from "Nigerian banks" do you.
I used to, until Google's email spam filter got really good. I was quite aware of the irony in this story.

Still, even in the US, watching a business person depositing a big wad of cash (we're talking 6 inch stack of bills) at my local bank would worry me a lot of I had to do it. It is not unusual for large stores to use an armored truck for their daily cash transfers.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:06 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by DanielRavenNest View Post
I used to, until Google's email spam filter got really good. I was quite aware of the irony in this story.

Still, even in the US, watching a business person depositing a big wad of cash (we're talking 6 inch stack of bills) at my local bank would worry me a lot of I had to do it. It is not unusual for large stores to use an armored truck for their daily cash transfers.
I'm not so sure she is a "business person" since the money that was taken was money she had saved out of her pay according to the article. She's a registered nurse, not a business owner.
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Old 05-11-2018, 04:38 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm not so sure she is a "business person" since the money that was taken was money she had saved out of her pay according to the article. She's a registered nurse, not a business owner.
He didn't say she was a business woman.
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Old 05-11-2018, 04:38 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I don't think she will have a successful lawsuit and she will probably lose a lot of the money as a result of suing. Hopefully she is suing out of principle because she feels the system is wrong, and not suing to try to get a windfall of cash. US Customs has a pretty broad authority for asset seizure, so I would bet the courts are going to rule in favor of US Customs on the seizure. The release agreement sounds like every single TOS for any software or transaction. Something tells me it will hold up against a court case too.

While there's still some question over the constitutionality of civil forfeiture as it is applied in practice, and if she were suing on those grounds you're probably right, she isn't.


Her suit is based on the fact that since no charges were filed and no forfeiture action sought, Customs is obliged to return the money. Her suit is saying that making the return of the money conditional on a hold-harmless agreement is both contrary to the law and (since the action was taken by an arm of government) abridging her right to petition for a redress of grievance and therefore unconstitutional. This may be "standard practice" but it isn't right and her lawyer is investigating seeking class action status, incorporating other plaintiffs who have been required to sign such agreements and seeking to void them.
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:03 AM   #18 (permalink)
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You never get those spammy phishing emails from "Nigerian banks" do you.
I googled: Citibank has an office in Nigeria too.
It is totally stupid to travel with such sums of cash in your luggage.

I find it totally normal that it is confiscated. The first thought of the authorities is rightfully so, that this money most likely is to be used for criminal/illegal activities. And an investigation should follow.
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:45 AM   #19 (permalink)
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What the government is doing is just plain wrong. True, I rarely carry more cash flying than I am comfortable walking around with (maybe $200 or $300) and the few times I wanted to have more I got traveler's checks. Still though, once the government has established it was innocent (after all, some people do things like put their whole pay-check, in cash, under their mattress) there should not be any stipulations on getting the money back.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:05 AM   #20 (permalink)
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He didn't say she was a business woman.
Where did I claim he said she was? I didn't. Nitpicker.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:15 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I googled: Citibank has an office in Nigeria too.
It is totally stupid to travel with such sums of cash in your luggage.

I find it totally normal that it is confiscated. The first thought of the authorities is rightfully so, that this money most likely is to be used for criminal/illegal activities. And an investigation should follow.
Rightfully? Why? Because she is BLACK so therefore she is a criminal so it's normal to confiscate her hard earned savings she intended to use for a medical clinic.

That is what you are saying whether you mean to or not.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:25 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I feel highly offended by the bullshit you are trying to sell now.
Skin color has nothing to do with what I wrote.
NOTHING AT ALL.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:37 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I feel highly offended by the bullshit you are trying to sell now.
Skin color has nothing to do with what I wrote.
NOTHING AT ALL.
I didn't say it had anything to do with what you wrote. You are not a person of color living in the US so you really have no idea how we are treated here. That is no bullshit. Skin color has EVERYTHING to do with how people are treated in the US. That is no bullshit.

I have to live with this shit every fucking day of my life. You do not.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:59 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Love those side orders of plausible deniability.
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Old 05-11-2018, 02:55 PM   #25 (permalink)
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The irony is not lost on this incident, but she might be lucky that the thug was US customs. At least she has a chance of getting the money back. Any other country or an actual criminal and the money would likely be gone for good, not to mention the risk to her life. It really does sound like poor planning and research on her part.

I don't think she will have a successful lawsuit and she will probably lose a lot of the money as a result of suing. Hopefully she is suing out of principle because she feels the system is wrong, and not suing to try to get a windfall of cash. US Customs has a pretty broad authority for asset seizure, so I would bet the courts are going to rule in favor of US Customs on the seizure. The release agreement sounds like every single TOS for any software or transaction. Something tells me it will hold up against a court case too.
Meanwhile, corporations are handing over sums in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the president's lawyer, to effect policy change, but hey that's all good because they wired it, rather than handing it to him in a bag.

It is her money. If she can show that she earned it, they have no business keeping it.
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