The Federal Bureau of Investigation regularly seizes cash, cars and other valuables that belong to people who aren’t accused of any crimes. Months later, many of those people receive a dense, boilerplate notice stating that the FBI plans to keep their property forever, without any explanation of why—a blatantly unconstitutional practice.
That’s what happened to Linda Martin. When the FBI took her life savings from a safe-deposit box during a 2021 raid of US Private Vaults in Beverly Hills, Calif., she assumed her money would be returned. The company’s alleged wrongdoing had nothing to do with her. But several months later, she—and hundreds of other innocent people who had their safe-deposit boxes taken—received a notice stating that the government wanted to forfeit her money.