A U.S. National has instituted a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection in which he claimed his whole life savings, which amount to $58,100, were taken into custody by agents without any kind of reason about half a year ago and he still has not got his hard-earned money back.
Rustem Kazazi, 64, was traveling back to Albania in October by air when he was stopped going through security at the airport in Cleveland, he told a media outlet.
Kazazi entered the U.S. on a lottery visa in 2005 and became an American after 5 years. He told that he was carrying $58,100 on him because he was going buying a summer-vacation house back in Albania.
He also told that carrying huge sums of money to Albania is common a common practice for expats, since transferring the money is not considered to be safe and contractors also like to be paid in dollar bills.
After his bills were seized by the authorities, he was taken in for an extensive ‘strip search’ but nothing illegal was found on him. They took the cash and gave a receipt on which no amount of money was written. He called his wife out of panic, who told him to stay calm and let his son deal with it when the trip ends. But it has been 7 months, the family still heard anything back.
They also received a letter a month later in which the seizure of money was acknowledged. The letter stated:
‘This is to notify you that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized the property described below at Cleveland, OH on October 24, 2017: $57,330 in U.S. Currency,’ the notice stated. ‘Enforcement activity indicates that the currency was involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.’
Kazazi was shocked to know that the authorities claimed to have seized less amount than they actually captured.
‘I began to worry that they were trying to steal the money for themselves,‘ he said in a court declaration.
His layer, Wesley Hottot, says this happens in a lot of cases of similar nature, where the govt. agents quote less amount to keep the difference for themselves. This makes the whole process of getting the money back even more complicated.
Hottot says that people who have stripped off their money have to prove they are not involved in any sort of criminal activity, which goes against the ‘innocent until proven guilty law.’
‘You have to affirmatively show you’re not a criminal to get your own money back,‘ Hottot told. ‘You have to effectively prove a negative.’
CBP released a statement which said that Kazazi ‘artfully concealed’ the sum, which was suspicious since he had ‘no verifiable source of income.’
His lawyer disputes this, saying Kazazi sent the money through the scanner at the airport, in bags that were clearly labeled.
His son claimed that the conflict has made his father’s health to get worse. Despite this, they have no bad feelings towards the country that accepted them.
‘He’s not going to let the actions of some employees that made a mistake in their duties change his opinion of the country,‘ his son told.