If you were carrying $75,000 in cash onto a plane, would you want your bag and your airport location tweeted out to the world? Neither would we. (Of course, we don’t have piles of cash lying around.)
That didn’t seem to occur to Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), who often shares pictures of crazy things found by the TSA on her Twitter account. Farbstein recently tweeted this message to her nearly 1900 followers: “If you had $75,000, is this how you’d transport it? Just asking! TSA @ #RIC spotted this traveler’s preferred method.”
Garbstein’s decision to include the amount of money and to name the airport where it was found (Virginia’s Richmond International Airport) has outraged many who saw the tweet.
“@TSAmedia_LisaF it’s absolutely appalling that you’re posting photos of private citizens’ belongings. You & your agency should be ashamed,” replied Twitter user @nickineily.
“@TSAmedia_LisaF Is this why you miss all those guns and bombs, too busy posting pics of other people’s money?” responded @CarberryMatthew.
Perhaps the problem with Farbstein’s tweet was that the traveler may not have been super-smart about it, but technically, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. According to U.S. Customs rules, passengers are allowed to bring that much cash on a plane, provided they declare any amount over $10,000, if they’re traveling internationally. Travelers aren’t required to declare money if they’re traveling domestically.
Officials, however, are allowed to seize the cash if it’s deemed suspicious, which they did in this case, according to the Washington Post. (Though the traveler was eventually sent on his way.)
In fact, the TSA purports to be worried about your privacy when carrying that much money and has recommendations for travelers carrying valuables: “If you are carrying … large amounts of currency, coins or jewelry,” writes the TSA on its blog, “we recommend that you ask Security Officers to screen you and your carry-on luggage in private. This will maintain your security and avoid public scrutiny.”
Guess Farbstein didn’t get the memo.
Farbstein told the Washington Post that “the carry-on bag of the passenger alarmed because of the large unknown bulk in his carry-on bag. When TSA officers opened the bag to determine what had caused the alarm, the money was sitting inside. Quite unusual. TSA alerted the airport police, who were investigating."
Farbstein didn’t respond to a question about whether posting the photos violated the passenger’s privacy, according to the Washington Post.