(DETROIT) — A Florida woman was allegedly caught carrying almost $41,000 through customs, with much of the cash reportedly hidden in her undergarments.
Victoria Faren, 78, and her daughter were stopped April 2 while trying to board a flight to the Philippines out of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, federal court records indicate.
The court records, filed Friday, recount the strange incident, during which customs agents discovered the elderly woman allegedly attempting to smuggle the cash through airport security.
When Faren and her daughter were first asked by officers how much money they were carrying, Faren reportedly said she was carrying $200. Her daughter reported carrying $1,200.
Records indicate Faren later reported carrying $1,200 on a written declaration, a figure change that made officials suspicious.
Federal law requires travelers to declare to customs authorities if they are carrying more than $10,000 in cash.
Faren allegedly first denied carrying anything other than the $1,200 she had written down, but an initial inspection of her bag reportedly yielded $8,000 stashed in various wallets. Officers again asked the woman if she was carrying any more cash.
“No, this is all the money,” said Faren, according to court records.
After a closer examination, officers allegedly found an additional $4,000 sewed into a cloth pouch and $977 hidden in sealed envelopes.
A total of $12,977 had reportedly been found in her carry-on bag alone, according to the court documents.
Records indicate Faren then admitted to officers that she was carrying $3,000 in her blouse and $2,000 sewn into her bra strap.
When Faren reportedly told officers she had no more cash on her, they conducted a pat-down search, and “detected a bulge near [Faren’s] buttocks,” court records indicate.
Faren then reportedly removed $5,000 from the back of her girdle and told officers that she hadn’t been carrying any more.
An officer then discovered another bulge in the front of Faren’s girdle, which is when the woman began to cry and admitted to carrying more cash — $21,000 was hidden in her girdle alone, according to the report.
Records indicate Faren had been carrying a total of $40,977, which she allegedly said she had received after selling her home to her son for $120,000.
The woman reportedly said she had been carrying the cash herself because she believed it would be safer than wiring the money to the Philippines.
Faren’s daughter, who lives with the older woman, told officers that she had no idea her mother had been carrying so much cash, and that “her mother was old,” court records indicate.
No charges were placed, but officers seized the $40,977 as “currency forfeitable to the United States.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gjon Juncaj is petitioning to have the cash forfeited to the government.
Victoria Faren, Gjon Juncaj, and a representative from the Customs and Border Control could not be immediately reached for comment.
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