FBI Raids Business Renting Anonymous Safety Deposit Boxes, Forces Customers To Reveal Identity To Get Stuff Back

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In a case that’s already sparked one lawsuit, a Beverly Hills strip mall business which rents private, anonymous safe deposit boxes was raided by the FBI last month – at which time the agency conducted a blanket seizure of hundreds of customers’ belongings.

To retrieve their valuables, customers will need to “identify themselves and subject themselves to an investigation to verify their legal ownership,” according to the Los Angeles Times, which noted that one customer has already gone to court claiming that the government overreached by confiscating the contents of every security box.

The company, U.S. Private Vaults, has been accused of laundering money for drug dealers – who anonymously stashed guns, drugs and cash.

In an indictment against U.S. Private Vaults, Inc., the U.S. attorney for Los Angeles accused the company of marketing itself deliberately to attract criminals, saying it brazenly promoted itself as a place customers could store valuables with confidence that tax authorities would be hard-pressed to learn their identities or what was stored in their locked boxes. To access the facility, customers needed no identification; it took just an eye and hand scan to unlock the door.

We don’t even want to know your name,” it advertised, according to prosecutors.  –Los Angeles Times

The feds used “multiple informants and at least one undercover police officer who posed as customers” to surveil the store and gather information about its customers.

One of the company’s owners and several employees are accused of being involved in drug sales that took place at the business, as well as helping customers to convert cash into gold in a way that would avoid suspicion. Of note, U.S. Private Vaults shared a storefront with Gold Business – named as a co-conspirator in the indictment – which is accused of helping customers convert cash into gold to avoid having to report currency transactions which exceed $10,000. – READ MORE

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