Why do the Secret Service seize funds?
The United States Secret Service is devoting significant resources to seize funds from bank accounts. There are several reasons why the Secret Service can target a specific account, and some bank activities are likely to trigger suspicion. Specifically, as of 2021, the US Secret Service is careful when it comes to:
- allegations of fraudulently obtaining Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans,
- allegations of fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) loans related to the Cares Act,
- if there is a pattern of regular cash deposit ($10,000 or less), the bank is required to file a suspicious activity report with the Financial Crime Enforcement Center (which can lead the US Secret Services to investigate),
What happens when the US Secret Service seizes your money and closes your account?
First, the US Secret Service proceeds to the seizure of all assets that are suspected fraudulent, then the bank account is closed. As the account holder, you will be notified by a personal notice from the Department of Homeland Security within 60 days of the seizure. You will also receive a letter from your bank.
The letter will describe the allegations against the money and explain why it was seized. The letter will also explain that the money from a bank account is subject to forfeiture pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code 981 as properties that were used in or acquired by wire fraud or loan or credit application fraud.
The letter will be specific and list a number of information that are necessary to identify the assets seized and allow the account holder to contest the seizure:
- the agency number,
- the case number,
- the secure number,
- the asset ID number,
- the asset description,
- the asset value,
- the description of the property seized and the date and location of the seizure.
On top of the notice, the US Secret Service also publishes notice of the seizure online.
What can you do when your money is seized by the United States Secret Service?
As the account holder, you can petition the Secret Service for return or remission of the forfeited property after submitting the “Petition for Remission/Mitigation” Form In this case, the person does not contest the forfeiture, simply requests the return of the property.
While this option can seem appealing and less complicated that actually contesting the forfeiture, a petition for a simple return is generally rejected.
The account holder can also contests the forfeiture in the United States District Court by filing a claim with the attached “Seized Asset Claim Form”. This might sound more complicated and many people might be discouraged by the complexity of starting proceedings in front of the District Court, however, if your assets have been seized, and you are ready to contest the forfeiture, this is the best option. You will need to provide proof that the funds are not fraudulent to the United State Secret Service Asset Forfeiture Division and demand return of the property. The Assistant United States Attorney then has 90 days to return the property of file a complaint for forfeiture in the United States District Court.
The account holder can decide not to do anything about the seizure, and simply ignore the letter.
In your form contesting the seizure, you must include:
- Details on the property,
- Your interest in the property (and any document that supports your interest),
- Why the property should be returned.
You will have to sign the form, and oath. I attest and declare under penalty of perjury that my claim to this property is not frivolous and that the information provided in support of the claim is true and correct, to the best of my knowledge and belief.
All communications with the USSS should be detailed (case number, seizure number, date and location of the seizure, items you are making the claim for, description of the item) and should be sent via commercial carrier.
Your assets have been seized and you’re ready to prove that the seizure was a mistake? Contact your experienced attorneys at EPGD Business Law.