A Pennsylvania man's entire life savings was lost when the DEA confiscated it at an airport, the man's daughter said.
Rebecca Brown, 54, was visiting her 79-year-old dad in Pittsburgh last year when he asked her to deposit $82,000 in cash he spent his entire life saving in a joint bank account when she went home to Massachusetts.
Brown put the money in her purse and headed to the airport, where she said she was pulled aside by TSA and questioned about the large sum of cash. She said she told the agents that it was her dad's life savings and they let her continue to the gate, but when she got there, she was approached by a DEA agent.
She said he demanded to call her elderly father and then told her their stories about the cash didn't match.
“He said, ‘we're seizing the money, put it into a Ziploc bag, said sign here on a piece of paper,’ and he said, ‘you'll hear from us and walked away with my dad's $82,000,’” she said to Inside Edition. “I kept saying to him, ‘please don't do this, this my dad's life savings. Please don't do this.’”
Now Rebecca and her dad have filed a lawsuit to recover their money.
"Traveling with cash, by itself, is not evidence of a crime," the family's attorney, Dan Alban from the Institute of Justice, told Inside Edition. "If there were other indications of a crime, if there were drugs or other contraband, if there were weapons, those would be things that might constitute probable cause. But there were none of those things here."
Technically there's no legal limit on how much money you can carry on a plane, but if you're traveling internationally with more than $10,000 in cash, you must declare the amount on your custom form. There is no legal limit on how much cash a person can carry through a TSA checkpoint when traveling domestically, but the TSA reserves the right to ask a traveler to justify their reason for carrying a large sum of money.
The TSA and DEA reportedly said it cannot comment on pending cases.
Brown and her father have not been charged with any crime. The family's attorney said nothing in their past would raise suspicion concerning the cash.