Federal agents raided an anonymous Beverly Hills locker store for alleged criminal activity, leading customers to call the seizures “ unconstitutional, ” it has been revealed.
A recently unsealed March 9 indictment alleges that US Private Vaults and its customers had money laundering and drug dealers storing fentanyl, guns and cash in the boxes and claimed the company was marketing itself to scammers.
FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency agents confiscated the contents of each box on March 22 after receiving a warrant that remains sealed.
The Los Angeles Times reported that there is a sign posted on the front door stating that customers on the FBI’s website must “ file a claim for your US Private Vaults box. ”
To submit a claim for your US Private Vaults box, please visit the following link, the sign notes.
The form The FBI’s website states, “To file a claim for properties stored at US Private Vaults in Beverly Hills, California, you must provide the following information. An FBI agent will contact you for more information. ‘
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Federal agents raided an anonymous Beverly Hills locker store, leading customers to call the seizures ‘unconstitutional’
The Los Angeles Times reported that there is a sign posted on the front door stating that customers on the FBI’s website must file a claim for your US Private Vaults box.
A 10-inch by 10-inch box at US Private Vaults rents for $ 2,000 annually, and the company noted on its website that it accepts bitcoin
Prosecutors alleged that US Private Vaults bragged that its anonymous boxes were more secure than federal agency banks, according to the indictment obtained by DailyMail.com.
“Unlike traditional bank deposits, US Private Vaults are 100 percent private, which keeps your identity completely anonymous,” claims an ad for the company on YouTube.
The company posted another video on YouTube in 2012 identifying the president as a Steven Gregory.
“Unlike a bank, we don’t require our customers to show photo ID or social security number as a requirement for box rental,” says Gregory in the video.
‘We identify our customers by means of an iris scan and a palm geometry scan.’
An ad for the company on YouTube claims that no Social Security number or ID was required to rent boxes from the company
The company posted another video on YouTube in 2012 identifying the president as a Steven Gregory
According to the indictment, the company had also reportedly advertised, “ We don’t even want to know your name, ” claiming it didn’t need customer information that was “ easily accessible to government agencies (such as the IRS). ”
A 10-inch by 10-inch box at US Private Vaults rents for $ 2,000 annually, and the company noted on its website that it accepts bitcoin. The cheapest box at $ 700 is just 3 inches by 5 inches.
The company is said to have even issued locker keys that were “unmarked and unnumbered, so that the police could not determine that the keys unlocked lockers at USPV,” the charges read.
Prosecutors alleged that employees would even tip customers if law enforcement officials were seen in the area.
According to The Los Angeles Times, customers would access the company with an eye and hand scan to unlock the door.
A manager at US Private Vaults traded marijuana and cocaine, and prosecutors alleged the company was conniving with a neighboring Gold Business store to launder money, prosecutors claimed.
Prosecutors alleged that employees of the Gold Business sold large quantities of jewelry for cash to a client of the US Private Vaults, who is also a confidential informant working with law enforcement officials.
“ I recommend staying under $ 10,000 in cash and then you could only do one day, and a few days later you could do the other, ” a Gold Business employee reportedly told an undercover DEA agent posing as a customer.
“If you buy less than $ 10,000, there is no form.”
During the raid, agents seized an “undetermined number of weapons” as well as fentanyl, OxyContin and “huge stacks of $ 100 bills” sniffed by drug dogs, The Los Angeles Times reported.
One box reportedly contained a whopping $ 1 million in cash, according to the outlet.
Prosecutors Alleged US Private Vaults Bragged Its Anonymous Boxes Were More Secure Than Federal Agency Banks
A manager at US Private Vaults traded marijuana and cocaine, and prosecutors alleged the company was conspiring with a neighboring Gold Business store
A form on the FBI’s website reads, “To file a claim for properties stored at US Private Vaults in Beverly Hills, California, you must provide the following information. An FBI agent will contact you for more information ”
In the indictment, a federal grand jury charged US Private Vaults with three things: conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and conspiracy to structure transactions.
The indictment did not name the people who were believed to be behind the illegal activity and it is not immediately clear whether they would be prosecuted independently.
DailyMail.com has contacted US Private Vaults for more information and additional comments.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the legality of the seizure has already sparked a contentious lawsuit.
One customer has already claimed that the FBI “ went too far by confiscating the belongings in every safe, ” according to court documents obtained by the point of sale.
The customer, listed as John Doe, alleges that the police confiscated the contents of the boxes ‘without showing why they suspected any person to have committed crimes’ and has claimed that searching hundreds of boxes was ‘unconstitutional’ .
According to The Los Angeles Times, the government falsely seized his jewelry and other valuables in three separate boxes “because there was no probable cause” that the customer had committed a crime.
Benjamin N. Gluck, the customer’s attorney, wrote in the court documents that customers “have a separate reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her individually controlled box or boxes,” the point of sale reported.
He’s trying to get a court order to stop the FBI from identifying clients whose items have been seized.
The form on the FBI website requires customers looking for their items to provide their names and phone numbers and asks for some other identifying information that is not required to fill out the form.
That identifying information includes email and physical addresses, while the form states that false statements on it are “ a federal crime. ”
Gluck claimed in the documents that the FBI is holding his client’s items “ hostage ” until he identifies himself, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Assistant US attorney Andrew Brown said in lawsuits that some customers are ‘honest citizens’ but defended confiscation of all boxes
Brown admitted in court documents that some customers were “honest citizens to whom the government wants to return their property” to differentiate between honest and criminal customers, “The Los Angeles Times reported.
“The government must investigate the specific facts of each box and claim,” Brown reportedly said.
Another Beverly Hills attorney with several clients who are clients of US Private Vaults told The Los Angeles Times that the government’s actions show “ little respect for the Fourth Amendment. ”
Lawyer Nina Marino condemned the government for “ confiscating property belonging to innocent box owners ” and viewing it, even when some boxes were used to commit crimes.
“It’s just outrageous that the government has so little appreciation for the Fourth Amendment and an individual’s expectation of privacy,” she said.
Beth Colgan, a law professor at UCLA, told The Los Angeles Times it would be shocking if a judge allowed the FBI to search every box in the sealed warrant.
“I would just be really surprised if a judge approved an order that would allow the FBI to go through every box without proof that the entire system was corrupt,” she said.
“Maybe they have the proof, and we don’t know.”