Detroit — Call it the case of the gilded girdle.
Customs officers seized almost $41,000 after they said a Florida woman tried to fly out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport with the cash hidden in her girdle and bra, according to federal court records filed Friday.
The court records describe a fruitful frisk after agents suspected the 78-year-old woman was hiding cash. The records also allege a botched plan by the woman to dodge laws prohibiting bulk cash smuggling and requiring travelers to declare if they are carrying more than $10,000.
On April 2, Clearwater resident Victoria Faren and daughter Cherryn tried to board Delta Air Lines Flight 275 to the Philippines, according to the complaint.
During inspection, Victoria said she was carrying $200. On a written form, she wrote $1,200, triggering questions from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, according to the complaint.
When officers opened her carry-on bag, they found $8,000 stashed in multiple wallets.
Officers asked if she had any more money.
“No,” the woman said. “This is all the money.”
Officers dug deeper, according to the complaint. Inside the carry-on bag, sewn into a cloth pouch, officers found $4,000.
They also found sealed envelopes stuffed with $977. That brought the running total to $12,977.
Again, they asked her if she had more money and warned her to tell the truth.
“Faren then reported that she was carrying $3,000 inside her blouse,” according to the complaint.
Got any more? officers asked.
“Faren produced $2,000 more from where it had been sewn into the strap of her bra,” court records say.
Officers asked if she had any more hidden cash.
“No,” she said.
Officers patted her down.
They found a bulge near her butt.
“Faren then removed $5,000 from the back of her girdle,” according to the complaint.
She denied hiding any more money.
Officers checked anyway, and found another bulge in the front of her girdle.
“She began to cry and admitted to carrying additional currency,” the complaint reads. “Approximately $21,000 was secreted in her girdle.”
After finishing the search of her bra, girdle and carry-on bag, officers found $40,977.
Her daughter told investigators she did not know about the hidden money.
Victoria Faren told investigators she had recently retired and sold her home for $120,000. She wired some money to the Philippines and hid some of the proceeds in her bra, girdle and carry-on bag, according to the complaint.
“She stated that she did not wire the proceeds to the Philippines this time because she thought it was safer to carry the money,” according to the complaint.
Victoria Faren has not been charged with a crime but Assistant U.S. Attorney Gjon Juncaj wants the cash forfeited to the government.