A woman’s terrible experience at a U.S airport made the rounds recently on social media and opened discussions regarding the country’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Law. The story was also picked up by World Poker Tour director Matt Savage, prompting several pros to share their own experience.
Money Seized Under Controversial Civil Asset Forfeiture Law
The lady traveled into Dallas from Chicago with luggage containing more than $100,000 in cash. A sniffer dog discovered the luggage and alerted the police. They then confiscated the money, but the woman was let go without any charge.
The lady passenger will now have to go through the hassle of securing the necessary requirements just to prove that the cash wasn’t involved in crime if she wants all of that money back.
This scenario is common in the US. Many travelers have had similar experiences where they’re being flagged at the airport for bringing with them loads of cash. Some end up leaving without their money. The country’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Law allows this to happen.
Under the law, the police can confiscate any property, including cash, they allege is connected to a crime. The property owner doesn’t have to be charged or arrested. This law is usually enforced on suspected illegal drug or organized criminal activities.
In the case of the woman who was interrupted at the Dallas Love Field Airport, her money amounting to $106,829 was seized by officers though she was not convicted of any crime. To recover her money, she would go through a costly and lengthy process that could take years to complete.
Poker Pros Share Similar Experience
Savage warned players to be careful when carrying cash while traveling within the US as they might end up having their money confiscated at the airport. Several players have actually experienced it.
Just a day before the Dallas incident, Ari Engel was also pulled aside for additional screening and questioning at the Asheville airport. He was bringing with him more than $10K in cash. The poker pro shared that he was lucky enough that he was able to show legal documents to prove where he got the money, otherwise it would also be seized. Engel said he had a sweat for the first time in his life at the said airport and added that it was not a fun experience.
Even Daniel Negreanu has had to go through a similar experience in Miami. The GGPoker ambassador shared that the police searched his bag after he fully declared the cash that he had with him. An agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spoke to him before he got on the plane but he was eventually removed from his seat surrounded by 16 officers. Some of them even recognized him, according to Negreanu.
The experiences of other players were much worse. David Peat shared that he was also pulled off a flight out of Detroit for the same reason. The police seized his money worth $7K and his Rolex. There was no charge whatsoever and he had to seek the help of a lawyer to retrieve his properties. Peat said he was warned that he only had 60 days to respond and failure to do so would result in automatic forfeiture. Paet was able to get them back after 90 days.
Keith Gipson and Gina Fiore also had $97,000 confiscated by officers and while the money was eventually returned to them, there was an attempt to insert a clause that no legal action should be taken against the authorities.
To avoid having to worry about getting caught in these situations, poker players can shift to electronic money transfers so they won’t have to carry loads of cash while traveling within the US.