Customs scams are a result of pressing financial problems. Once indicted for such a scam, you will have to face the consequences of jail time, losing the privilege to import goods, and facing heavy penalties. If you are accused of such scams, get in touch with us at Logue Law Group, and we will arrange a meeting with the best Pittsburgh customs fraud lawyer who will help you.
What is Customs Fraud Law?
Importing goods in Pittsburgh using fraudulent, forged, or phony documents, avoiding tariffs, and bringing in contraband are all illegal. For prosecuting customs fraud, different federal laws are used, such as laws protecting Pittsburgh commerce, drug laws, and also regulations for keeping the environment clean, and the products and food safe. Importers charged under the obstruction of justice statute will face harsher penalties.
The government is seeking ways for reducing customs fraud. In fact, the quantity of goods that are imported to Pittsburgh has steadily increased in the last few years with custom frauds being hard to detect. The customs authorities check the fraudulent paperwork and at the same time also depend on the information empowered by the False Claims Act. The custom scams that are frequently used include:
- Designating incorrect classifications intentionally for cargo for lessening or avoiding tariffs—for example, classifying a container of televisions as a container of lawnmowers so that the importer can pay less in tariffs.
- Supplying the incorrect country of origin intentionally to avoid quotas—this happens most frequently with food and apparel, and is done to avoid the additional tariffs that come when an importer brings in more of an item than the law allows for.
- Undervaluing goods intentionally—this means the importer is trying to avoid paying tariffs on goods by saying they are worth less than they are.
- Neglecting to pay antidumping duties—shipping goods through another country as a way to manipulate the shipment and avoid antidumping fees.
The customs fraud attorneys at our Pittsburgh firm know that investigations related to customs fraud generally begin with the customs officials demanding extra documents for backing up the claims of an importer that the cargo is actually what they assert it is. When the officials do not get convincing supporting paperwork immediately, they will be capable of filing a pre-penalty demand, which will allege that the importer has committed fraud. They may need full forfeiture or administrative summons which will stop the importer from bringing the cargo in till the needs are met. The customs authorities also have the power of re-classifying the goods of the importer and giving them a tariff rate which will complement the new classification. Any importer will possess the right of challenging the tariff, yet in order to support their challenge, they will be required to produce proper documentation.
What Will be the Penalty?
Importers being charged with committing customs fraud will have to face federal penalties depending on the severity of the fraud and illegal cargo. The different penalties include loss and forfeiture of the importation privileges, fines, and imprisonment.