TSA screeners stole over $200K from fliers' baggage

Two TSA screeners from New York's Kennedy airport were busted for stealing over $200,000 in cash from fliers. They targetted people they thought were drug dealers, since they didn't think their victims would complain.
Coumar X-rayed luggage destined for an American Airlines flight to Argentina on Jan. 30. Then he phoned Webb, who was assigned to the baggage belt area. Webb confirmed there was cash inside, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Brown said Coumar found $170,000 wrapped in tape. He took $40,000 and met Webb in a bathroom, where the employees hid the loot in their clothing, Brown said.

A TSA agent tipped off a supervisor, triggering an investigation by Port Authority cops.

The TSA says that this is an isolated incident, despite the fact that it's happened before.

Two TSA agents arrested at JFK Airport for stealing $39K from passenger's bag (via Digg)

(Image: Bottle: entry in Bruce Schneier's TSA logo competition, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from bazzargh's photostream)


    1. Sounds legit to me.

      However, I’m pretty sure that the response required of a TSA officer when they suspect a crime is to take the suspect’s stuff and divvy it with your buddies. There’s probably even an amendment about that.

      1. That actually is the correct TSA response. I’ve lost more C4, timers and small handguns to the system. No actual criminal charges, which is nice, but I’ve had to start just mailing my stuff to where I’m going along with my four pairs* of shoes.

        * What? I just like to be stylish when I visit new cities

  1. When my brother-in-law flew to Russia to adopt his son, he took something like $30,000 cash American with him to endow a struggling orphanage near Siberia.

    The Soviet customs inspector made him take off his bulging money belt, and carefully counted the money. It was mostly $100 bills for obvious reasons, but also a few twenties and tens.

    The inspector put all but ten dollars in a stack, and the tenner by itself. He looked at my brother and pointed at the large stack. “Yhour money?” he asked. My brother nodded. The officer pointed at the ten. “Is geeft?” he asked. My brother nodded again, vigorously. “Wery good, Wehlcome to RHrussia!” said the inspector, smiling broadly.

    So, the moral of this story is, the USA’s Homeland Security apparatus is more corrupt than the old Soviet Union’s. We’ve out-stalined Stalin! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  2. “They targeted people they thought were drug dealers, since they didn’t think their victims would complain.”

    Good idea. Drug dealers are typically pushovers when it comes to threats to their bottom line.

    The TSA should let Darwinism take care of this problem for them…

  3. Nothing to see here. This is an isolated event that’s happened before.


    I wish someone would replace the statue of liberty (we no longer deserve, give it back to France) with a statue of George Orwell of equal size. The most (sadly) prescient man in American history.

    1. “I wish someone would replace the statue of liberty (we no longer deserve, give it back to France) with a statue of George Orwell of equal size. The most (sadly) prescient man in American history.”

      Umm, Orwell was British.

      An American equivalent? Hmmm. Smedley Butler, perhaps?

  4. This doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is that the one who reported them was also a TSA agent. At least one of them is capable of acting like a decent human being.

  5. Well, I once found a brand new pair of handgrade John Lobbs missing from my luggage. Made a complaint, and the airline refunded just $500, since apparently that’s their maximum cap for a pair. Lesson learned – never check in any expensive piece of clothing.

  6. Basically never check anything valuable at all. Or ship it anywhere without insuring the hell out of it. I’ve had several packages rifled or disappeared by FedEx.

    There was a bit going around a few years ago from a photographer that the best way to get your checked luggage there intact was to buy a starters pistol and always pack it. The TSA would then have to put seals on your bag that the handlers couldn’t tamper with.

  7. I went on holiday to Spain once, only to discover that someone had helped themselves to my packet of jellybean’s. I was really looking forward to some sugary goodness when I arrived at my hotel.

  8. And this only makes the news because the inspectors kept the money, they would be looking at a fat promotion if they had stolen the money without due process in the name of the guberment.

  9. So …

    1 Make everyone buy bags with TSA-approved “locks” that open with the TSA SÃœper $3kr3t key
    2 Turn over security to goons making burger-flipping money and little-to-no training or background checks

    I just wonder why any of my stuff arrives, not why some doesn’t.

  10. The TSA is a misbegotten abomination from a hell dimension, sure. But because of all the civil liberties crap, not because they steal stuff. And if you care about the civil liberties crap over and above an excuse to say ZOMG TSA WTF on the internets, you should appreciate the distinction.

    This happened backstage, when two wage grunts assigned to look for suitcase bombs decided to become two thieves. Yes, that makes them very bad people who should go to jail. But there are always people “backstage” who can steal your stuff, sneeze in your food, steal your credit card number, intercept your packages, etc. There’s risk in every little thing we do. You can’t be made totally safe.

    Which, ironically, is the lesson that, if we’d learned it fast enough, would have prevented us from having the TSA in its present Orwell’s-nightmare form. Instead, we might still have a minimally intrusive, locally responsive, more accountable, more flexible airport security system. (And your bundles of cash would still get stolen every now and then.)

      1. Yikes. I meant they crap the do TO civil liberties, not that civil liberties themselves are crap.

        And yet I kind of expected this. How did I know that calling the TSA a “misbegotten abomination from a hell dimension” wouldn’t be enough for some of the usual suspects? “Oh, so you say it’s misbegotten, but nevertheless you DO maintain that it WAS begotten!”

        I think what happened is that you did read the rest of my post, and it hit a little close to home. If so, I can’t say I’m sorry.

        1. I think what happened is that you did read the rest of my post, and it hit a little close to home. If so, I can’t say I’m sorry.

          Actually, I didn’t rest the rest of your post. I stopped where I said I stopped. And after reading what I just quoted you saying above, I’m still not interested.

  11. It is time to stop the kid gloves of modern policing and take these asses out into their public place of work and strip their bare butts and flog them severely in front of their peers. Law enforcement is just not making it anywhere and we need these old public displays of punishment to wake criminals up to the fact that “”We Are Not Going To Take It Any More!!!”. This kind of treatment, when i was young and stupid, might have kept me out of prison later, Nothing else did. Therre is nothing like good old public humiliation.

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