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Customs Fraud – Whistleblowing (What You Need to Know)

Whistleblowing is a crucial component of our democracy, as those who do wrong aren’t likely to come clean about it on their own accord. If you have any knowledge of an individual or company committing customs fraud through misclassification or another means to benefit themselves, you could see significant financial reward for acting as a whistleblower. However, it is crucial that you employ a legal professional with knowledge of the whistleblowing process first, and the attorneys at the Cambridge firm of Altman & Altman can help you from start to finish.

What is Customs Fraud?

Hundreds of millions of dollars are transported across the borders of the United States every day, mostly in the form of currency and products. For large amounts of currency or certain types of products, fees and taxes (known as tariffs) are necessary to pay in order to allow passage into the country. Customs fraud is the process of knowingly misidentifying what you are bringing into the country, lying about how much you are bringing in or otherwise misleading customs officials in order to avoid taxes or fees.

Customs fraud is illegal under the federal False Claims Act, which enforces penalties against those who knowingly commit customs fraud. However, another aspect of the False Claims Act is that it allows for whistleblowers to reap financial rewards for helping lead customs officials to individuals or corporate entities who are committing customs fraud.

The United States Customs and Border Protection has made it relatively simple to put forward an accusation of customs fraud, as you can make an allegation simply by following this link. The e-Allegations form works for multiple aspects of customs fraud, including:

Reporting suspected criminal / illegal activities such as…

  • Immigration crime
  • Human rights violations such as human trafficking
  • Narcotics smuggling
  • Financial or white collar crimes such as money laundering
  • International art theft

Reporting trade violations such as…

  • Intellectual Property Rights infringement
  • Textile or Free Trade Agreement violations
  • Health and safety issues
  • Classification and value violations
  • Forced labor violations

However, before you start an allegation process it is essential that you consult with an attorney that understands the customs fraud process and what it takes to make a successful allegation against someone suspected of committing customs fraud. There are potential penalties you may be subject to for filing an incomplete allegation and especially for filing a false allegation. Therefore, it is vital to make sure you have done your due diligence prior to proceeding.

Whistleblowing can be very rewarding – both financially and morally – as you have done something to help enforce the rules and regulations that some would rather try to avoid. The United States government is simply unable to keep track on the expansive amount of goods entering and exiting the country every day, and so whistleblowers are crucial to helping cover the bases they cannot.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 50 years of experience helping our clients navigate the complicated waters of whistleblowing, and we understand the high scrutiny involved in such cases and the importance of putting forward a strong allegation with proper evidence. We will work with you from the time the allegation is made until you receive your reward compensation for bringing customs fraud to light.

If you think that you may have information related to a case of customs fraud or other illicit activities occurring under the purview of the U.S. Customs and Border Control, contact us online or call for a free consultation to go over the details of your case today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7.

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