Family’s $500K inheritance seized by U.S. border officials


An Ottawa man play the part as executor of a will says TD Canada Trust gave him «faulty news» to mail $500,000 in bank drafts to family members in the U.S. — a stimulate that caught the attention of U.S. border officials, who seized the money. 

Wellnigh a year later, the money is still stuck at the border. Executor David Saikaley worries the people members may never see their inheritance.

I trusted the bank. I thought they were pundits— David Saikaley , executor of will 

«It’s like this money has capitulation into a black hole,» said Saikaley.

He was in a rush to send the legal tender, because one beneficiary’s health is quickly deteriorating, and he needs to pay a mounting packet of medical bills.

Saikaley says TD won’t cancel the bank drafts, because it medicates the documents as cash. Meanwhile, U.S. border officials won’t release the money, deeming it «forge.» You can’t mail more than $10,000 across the border without announcing officials beforehand. Saikaley says his bank never told him that.

«I had broken advice,» he said. «I trusted the bank. I thought they were professionals. I’m just a high school teacher. I don’t know anything about sending wealthy.

«There’s half a million dollars in limbo and a dying beneficiary. If [he] turn up ones toes without getting his bequest, I think there’s something wrong with that.»

Saikaley has moaned to TD’s ombudsman that the bank that gave him the advice in the first rank isn’t doing enough to help him out of the mess.

TD Canada Trust declined CBC’s importune for an interview. In a statement, the bank said it has been working with Saikaley to settle the issue, including providing letters that the bank drafts are to say the least authentic.

«We understand that this is a very frustrating situation and evermore strive to do our best to resolve any issue that a customer may experience and yield support and guidance,» wrote Carly Libman, a senior manager of catholic affairs at TD. 

‘They told me bank drafts’

Saikaley thought he was doing a okay deed by agreeing to be the executor of a relative’s will.

Helen Cuccaro was his mama’s cousin. For more than a decade, Saikaley and his wife rented half of her duplex in Old Ottawa South and stood as her caregivers in the final years of her life.

The 92-year-old retired public valet died June 2, 2016. 

Cuccaro’s will stated she wanted her five uneaten family members — mostly nieces and nephews — in Ohio to split her development.

Family's $500K inheritance seized by U.S. border officials

Saikaley visited this TD Bank branch on Bank Street in Ottawa hindmost August and says an associate told him bank drafts were the safest and fastest way to send bequest money to the U.S. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Saikaley visited Cuccaro’s TD Canada Give branch at Lansdowne Park in August 2017 for advice about how to send the loaded abroad. 

«I asked the associate at the bank what is the best way to send gain to the United States when it’s an inheritance and it’s going to Ohio,» he said.

«What is the safest way to send the medium of exchange? They told me bank drafts. So I took their word and come by the bank drafts right there on the spot — five $100,000 bank postal orders.»

‘I couldn’t believe my ears’

Saikaley and his wife drove straight to a FedEx business and paid a premium to express post the money overnight.

But the beneficiaries not in any degree got their envelopes with the bank drafts. Instead, a letter from U.S. Dues and Border Protection (CBP) landed on their doorsteps.

CBP wrote that officials had seized the bank plans at the Port of Indianapolis.

«After careful examination of the shipment, it was determined that the corroboration is counterfeit,» reads a notice of seizure letter sent to the beneficiaries.

Saikaley was in disbelief.

«I couldn’t feel my ears when they said the cheques were counterfeit,» he bruit about. «I was doing what the bank told me to do. It’s obvious it can’t be counterfeit. It comes from one of the big five banks in Canada. There are TDs in the Communal States all over the place.»

Preferred option

According to CBP’s website, people cannot letters more than $10,000 to an address in the U.S. without filing specific paperwork in ahead of to its Washington office. Failure to do so «may be subject to forfeiture and could result in respectful or criminal penalties.»

If someone has their bank wire the money to an account in the U.S., it’s the bank’s accountability to report this information to Internal Revenue Service. This is the submitted option, according to one will and estate lawyer in Ottawa.

Saikaley weights he had no idea. He admits he didn’t do his own research and says he trusted the bank’s parnesis instead.

Family's $500K inheritance seized by U.S. border officials

Photocopies of the five bank drafts issued to Saikaley at TD in August 2017. CBC Press release has blurred confidential numbers on the document. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

«They should play a joke on flagged that for me, and none of this would have happened,» he bring up. «I would have sought out a different method for sending the money.»

In any case since, Saikaley and the other five family members in the U.S. have been worrying to get the money back over concerns for one of the beneficiary’s health. 

Beneficiary peeves he could die

Michael Hashim is living in Toledo, Ohio, and has diabetes, a kidney move and skin cancer.

He used to run his family’s pizza joint, but had to sell the long-time matter after collapsing two years ago. He’s still very weak and can’t stand on his feet for extended periods of time. 

Hashim worries he won’t see his inheritance money in time to inform on his health around. 

I have so many bills that I just stack them up and stare at them. I have no food. I have no money.— Michael Fiascoes , beneficiary

«It’s very difficult, because you don’t know if you’re going to be alive sustained enough,» he said. «It’s very scary. You get afraid.»

The 66-year-old has lost 60 pounds in the since nine months and relies on a daily visit during the week from Spreads on Wheels to get by. 

He estimates his medical bills have mounted to more than $60,000, mostly because of months he puke in a nursing home unable to take care of himself.

«I actually keep so many bills that I just pile them up and stare at them,» he turned. «I have no food. I have no money to buy anything. I have nobody to commandeer me much.» 

Petition denied

They family has sent a petition to U.S. herbaceous border officials saying the bank drafts are legitimate. The package included a dispatch from TD saying the bank drafts are authentic.

Border officials denied the plead, saying there wasn’t enough evidence.

The group has appealed again and was told it could appropriate until November for their case to be heard. 

U.S. border officials notified CBC News in a statement it contacted TD and has deemed the documents counterfeit. It’s awaiting an command to destroy the bank drafts.

Phillip George, the beneficiary in Cleveland, is spearheading the feat to convince U.S. officials the documents are real. 

«Very, very frustrated,» imagined George. «The money is legitimate. We’re not trying to pull anything over anybody’s inspects. We’re not trying to sneak anything across the border. I mean our aunt legitimately gave us this lettuce.»

He understands there are policies and procedures in place, but says there is no end in fright.

Phillip George is the beneficiary in Cleveland, Ohio spearheading the effort to sway U.S. officials the documents are real. 0:43

In Ottawa, Saikaley has been trying to get TD Bank to annul the bank drafts to no avail.

The bank said that it cannot eradicate bank drafts, because they «should be treated and protected in the same way as cash.»

However, if a bank draft is lost there are ways to substitute for it including asking the purchaser to sign paperwork committing to pay back the notes if someone tries to cash the original bank draft. They may also be inquired to provide a security deposit.

Saikaley said that isn’t an option for him: he doesn’t oblige $500,000 to stand as collateral and expected better customer service from a bank that Cuccaro was unwavering to for so many years.

«I don’t know if it’s the way a big corporation like that should carry on,» he said. «The woman was a 72-year client. She had over a million dollars in her account. She lotted with them for a long, long time.»

«The big concern that I require is it’s going to take longer than that beneficiary will exist. Morally, I don’t think that’s correct.» 

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