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Financial Responsibility == Terrorism?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the utterly-speechless dept.

1086

An anonymous reader writes "Capital Hill Blue is reporting that recently a retired Texas schoolteacher and his wife had a little run in with the Department of Homeland Security. The crime? Paying down some debt. From the article: 'The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522. And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable. [...] They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified.'"

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My experience (5, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863417)

This isn't surprising. I work for a regional bank. Every employee is required to undergo training to know "what to look for". Doesn't matter if you are a teller, or a computer help desk operator. Anything over a certain dollar limit must be reported. As time goes on, the threshold has lowered. Pay off your house early? Gets reported. Large deposit? gets recorded. And anything overseas gets more scrutiny than J-Lo's panty lines.

The training creeped me out. the uber-patriotic person assigned to train our group was so into it. 3/4 of our group thought it was great... bringing down meth dealers who weren't smart enough to structure their money better. In fact, however, structuring is a crime as well... Go just below the radar one too many times, and you can be charged, eevn if there is no illegal activity behind the generation of money.

And, I would be wise to post AC (I won't, so this message might get more credibility) as advising someone how to avoid setting off the bells and whistles is a crime too.

We don't live in 1984, but we might be at 1983...

Re:My experience (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863451)

I am a consultant for a large national bank and just took this Money Laundering course. Wow, was it creepy. Yes, if you are a stupid crook you will get caught. If you are a normal human being you can get really nailed.

The weird bit about this class was the continual referece to getting to know you customer. Which is of course imposible. So they set out all these questions and senerios to help you "GUESS" if there was a problem.

Re:My experience (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863474)

We've all been living in 1984 since 9/11/2001.
The government has access to everyones personal records and they will continue to watch to make sure everyone toes the line.

Re:My experience (1)

Chasuk (62477) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863535)

Go just below the radar one too many times, and you can be charged, eevn if there is no illegal activity behind the generation of money.

Could you possibly substantiate and clarify this?

Re:My experience (5, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863580)

It is called "structuring [visualanalytics.com] "

You're guilty of a thought crime. (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863602)

They're coming after you, now.

Re:My experience (-1, Troll)

rebeka thomas (673264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863536)

What you have to realise is none of this means anything. So homeland security is notified. So they have a look at your records. So they eventually notice nothing is wrong, and they go away.

What's the problem? Again it comes down to the age old statement that defeats the conspiracy theorists who are convinced the government is going to imprison all good americans while the real troublemakers run free.

"If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

Think about it. If someone were involved in the shifting of huge amounts of funds around and planning the next WTC, Pentagon, Waco or Bali bombing, you mean you all wouldn't want to know about it? Uhuh. Right.

Re:My experience (5, Insightful)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863588)

"If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

Which is an idiotic argument, because what's currently okay won't always be okay.

Ask someone who signed up for the trendy, fashionable Communist Party in the 1920s how that act later went over in the 1950s, for example.

Re:My experience (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863599)

What you have to realise is none of this means anything. So homeland security is notified. So they have a look at your records.

You have a very naive attitude. Homeland Security is staffed by employees, who are evaluated on their productivity. There may not be a quota, but they are expected to show results. Now imagine the homesec guy looking into your records is behind--he's had a string of duds, or was lazy. Guess what--he's going to find a way to make your case a viable one. 18 months and $50,000 in lawyer costs later, you win your case. Doesn't matter to the homesec guy, because his semi-annual review 14 months ago treated your case a live high-probable laundering crime.

Understand why the law (real law, not fear-mongering homeland security bullshit) generally frowns on police fishing expeditions? There's just too much temptation to force a case through that shouldn't be. And yes, that's what this is--fishing.

Just to put things into perspective, you have a greater chance of being killed or injured by your own car than you do suffering death or injury from a terrorist attack. Can you say, overreact?

Re:My experience (4, Interesting)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863564)

Perhaps the threshold is a percentile for the company...

In this case, I think a $6,000 payment to JC Penny (a department store) is quite unusual.

Now, to figure out who's laundering money through JC Penny...

Re:My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863570)

Use über or ueber, but not uber, unless you want to look stupid.

Re:My experience (3, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863597)

Umlauts get you marked on Homeland Secuirity's database for being an unpatriotic kraut head ;)

not a perfect system, someone propose a better one (3, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863423)

I have no idea why a much larger than normal payment would trigger red flags for suspicious behavior. But then, I'm not responsible for Homeland Security.

From the article:

Eventually, his and his wife's money was freed up.

The flags were cleared, they didn't lose money, they don't live under a cloud of suspicion.

Until or unless we know what behaviors might be red flags for suspicious possibly terrorism-related activity, this story is mildly interesting at best.

The headline for this article is misleading at best: "Financial Responsibility == Terrorism". Noone was accused of terrorism. And, writing a check for $6500 on a credit card sounds to me like typical financial matters, but maybe not "responsible", i.e., we have no idea if they were running large balances against no income, etc. (As a matter of fact, they say in the article they were making this payment because their balance "had gotten to an unhealthy level".

As for unusual financial transactions raising flags, this is not new as reflected in one of the posts in the referenced article:

This kind of spying isn't new. I bought a vehicle in 1990 and wrote a check for it. The dealer had to record where I got the money because "the IRS wants to know the source of any payment in excess of a certain dollar amount." No proof required, just a statement. No idea what they did with the info.

Of course, I'm sacrificing karma to take the unpopular view.

No problem here (1)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863457)

I twice have purchased a new car at the dealer by writing a five-figure check for the full amount before driving away. I had no problems either time.

Re:No problem here (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863482)

You did not have a problem. However, your activity is now in a database with Homeland Security. Unless the dealership was not complying. Non-compliance gets a company in deep shit quick. And, at least with banks, there is an annual audit process.

Re:No problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863527)

I purchased a new car about 7-8 years ago and wrote a check for the entire amount. In order to finalize the purchase, the dealer told us it was state law that we had to fill out some sort of statment that appeared to justify why we were able to pay cash. I wasn't happy about it, but I did it, thinking I had no choice. Recently, we purchased another car with cash and this time, we didn't have to fill out any such form. Maybe the first dealer was full of it and just trying to cover his but in case the check bounced.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863466)

This has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism, and it's been around for quite a while. The purpose is to catch drug dealers. Whether that's an appropriate thing for the government to be putting so much effort into or not is another matter.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (2, Insightful)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863531)

Yes, but the point is the government organization receiving these reports is HOMELAND SECURITY. In other words, that which everyone predicted has happened. Homeland Security is now handling day-to-day law enforcement -- but, unlike, say, your local PD or the FBI, Homeland Security doesn't answer to anyone. Homeland Security can literally do ANYTHING and you have no recourse.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

publius_jr (808330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863603)

The purpose of the plan is not to catch drug dealers. That's goverment doublespeak. In reality, the reason we call drug dealing a federal crime is so we can `rationalize' such liberty-encroaching plans.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (5, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863479)

they don't live under a cloud of suspicion.
...more than anyone else, you mean. This kind of behaviour means we're all living under an implicit cloud of suspicion -- if we weren't suspect, what valid cause would there be for interference? My personal financial matters are my own personal financial matters, and why a transaction between myself and an entity I happen to contract with to keep my money has any business being audited by a government entity charged with "homeland security" -- well, it wants something by way of explanation.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

acvh (120205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863548)

run for something, I'll vote for you. (because I have no mod points)

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

Krach42 (227798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863495)

I have no idea why a much larger than normal payment would trigger red flags for suspicious behavior. But then, I'm not responsible for Homeland Security.

There are two possible reasons that I can personally think of.

  1. You suddenly came into a lot of money--likely illegally--and you're using it now to pay off your debts. Related to this is, if you had the money to make such a large payment now, why haven't you been paying more of it off faster.
  2. You're desperate, and on the edge, and you're planning on offing yourself, but to avoid problems for your heirs and such, you pay off significant amounts of your debt. It's likely that this can be a red flag before someone runs out and commits mass-murder, or some other equally stupid action against society that the DHS is supposed to protect us from.


Basically, anything sudden is a big red flag to the DHS, and other authorities. Most people don't do sudden stuff like suddenly pay off ~$6,500 of their credit card debt in one payment. It's unusual, and also carries a significant enough amount of a question as to intent that the action was done, that the rarity of investigating it, is outweighed by the potential gain if it catches just one terrorist, or "domestic perpetrator of violence".

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863518)

So why is homeland security investigating this then? Why not IRS, or even the FBI. Why homeland security?

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

Krach42 (227798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863574)

So why is homeland security investigating this then? Why not IRS, or even the FBI. Why homeland security?

Because they're the new shiney branch of the executive branch with the money to actually look into these sorts of things.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong (anyone) but I believe that the FBI is now a part of the DHS.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

acvh (120205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863581)

The FBI is part of Homeland Security now. The IRS will be soon.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863508)

From the article:

        Eventually, his and his wife's money was freed up.

The flags were cleared, they didn't lose money, they don't live under a cloud of suspicion.


Oh, that's quite okay then. I guess it's fine to confiscate people's money as long as you give it back in the end (I hope they got paid it back with interest, otherwise they did lose money), and there's no problem with investigating people for entirely spurious reasons as long as you don't cause them too much mental anguish while you're busy accusing them of acting like terrorists.

Big Brother is watching you, but don't worry, he's a very kind big brother and he won't torture you if you haven't done anything naughty!*

* Unless you look kind of foreign.

And, writing a check for $6500 on a credit card sounds to me like typical financial matters, but maybe not "responsible", i.e., we have no idea if they were running large balances against no income, etc. (As a matter of fact, they say in the article they were making this payment because their balance "had gotten to an unhealthy level".

And? That's between them and their bank. If they're running large balances against no income, their bank would be unwise to continue to lend them money, and should consider requiring security for any further loans. I fail to see where homeland security comes into it.

As for unusual financial transactions raising flags, this is not new as reflected in one of the posts in the referenced article:
This kind of spying isn't new. I bought a vehicle in 1990 and wrote a check for it. The dealer had to record where I got the money because "the IRS wants to know the source of any payment in excess of a certain dollar amount."


Again, that makes sense. The IRS clearly needs to keep track of large money transfers. The American people have generally accepted the idea of federal taxes, and as such accept that a federal tax agency needs to know who has what money so they can be taxed correctly (and punished if they're not paying their fair share). Homeland security doesn't come into it.

Even if you take the line that large payments might be a sign of money-laundering going on, surely money-laundering is the FBI's remit, not the Secret Police^W^WHomeland Security?

America - still more free than North Korea!

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (3, Interesting)

Vicissidude (878310) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863530)

I have no idea why a much larger than normal payment would trigger red flags for suspicious behavior.

The question is what did you do to get all this extra money? Did you commit a crime? Or did someone of disrepute give you the money to launder?

The purpose of these laws is to make a big stack of cash relatively useless. That helps make stealing or otherwise illegitimately "earning" a big stack of cash less inviting. Sure, you can steal a million dollars, but then you can't do anything with it.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

Amonimous Coward (778781) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863561)

>I have no idea why a much larger than normal payment would trigger red flags for suspicious behavior.

You don't ? How about this: A sudden inflow of money in the market, disrupting economy, causing inflation and mass panic ?

Or: Is there something better than money to spread anthrax ? The more money circulating, the easier to spread anthrax.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (1)

replicant108 (690832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863575)

Of course, I'm sacrificing karma to take the unpopular view.

You crazy sonuvagun.

Re:not a perfect system, someone propose a better (2, Informative)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863607)

Eventually, his and his wife's money was freed up.

Enough said.

don't miss the point (1)

conJunk (779958) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863613)

how much i owe, to whom, and how long it takes me to pay it off is between me, my creditors, and a few people very close to me.

it is *not* the business of the government. yes, you are 100% right - the couple in TFA are not under a cloud of suspicion, and their payment eventually went through

however, homeland security goons are familliar with some of the intimate details of their finances, and the just makes me feel icky

Stonehenge daypass (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863425)

My deepest sympathies for Mr & Mrs Stonehenge.

However, I kept my eyes closed whilst having to watch the sponsored ad for 15 seconds to get the early daypass thing.

Meh.

Re:Stonehenge daypass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863600)

Really? I have Firefox with Adblock. I have no idea what ad it was referring to - I just had a blank screen for 15 seconds, then a link to a day pass.

??? WTF (3, Funny)

raydobbs (99133) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863427)

So....it's a sign of impending terrorism to decide to pay down your debt? Smooth move, guys. Wouldn't suicide terrorists get a card, and max it out - knowing that they will never have to pay it off?

Re:??? WTF (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863503)

Their estate is still responsible for their debt, just like everyone else. Believe me, I doubt their next of kin will get protection under bankruptcy after a terror attack.

Re:??? WTF (5, Funny)

Skreems (598317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863587)

Of course. Living within your means is un-American. Did you not get the memo?

Catcher in The Rye (4, Interesting)

Krach42 (227798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863430)

Seriously, it's getting pretty bad. Everything you have to notify the government for.

When I was flying back from Europe, I had to fill out a form with who I was, and my home address, and an emergency contact (if I so wished).

They set it up like it's some sort of idea that all flights into the US require all US citizens to be recognized and accounted for, so that if it goes down? or something like that? that they can know for sure who was on board, and can start contacting people ahead of time?

The requirements for entering the US are so ridiculously more complex than any other country I've visited.

Catcher in The Wry (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863471)

"The requirements for entering the US are so ridiculously more complex than any other country I've visited."

And yet the illegal immigrants keep coming.

Re:Catcher in The Wry (1)

Krach42 (227798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863512)

BTW, thanks for fixing the title... Stupid non-phonetic English.

Re:Catcher in The Wry (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863560)

Your spelling of the book was correct, not the AC.

Re:Catcher in The Wry (1)

Krach42 (227798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863590)

DAMN IT. Well, I say stupid English spelling anyways.

I had though it was Catcher in the Rye because Rye is a grain, and I personally remember the title by imagining in a rye field. Of course, I'm quick to admit fallability if I'm not confident in my memory.

Thanks for setting me straight though. And boo the AC for leading me astray. BOOO!!!

Isn't there supposed to be some NJ law that'll make me not have to read these AC comments ;)

Catcher in The Fe Fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863630)

"Thanks for setting me straight though. And boo the AC for leading me astray. BOOO!!!"

All that energy to BOO something that wasn't ment to be a correction while ignoring the post that was attached to it.

Re:Catcher in The Wry (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863594)

No, you were right. "Wry" means "ironic" or "twisted" (usually referring to humor). "Rye" is a type of grain. A catcher "in the rye" = "in the field of grain" makes sense, but a catcher "in the wry" = "in the ironically humorous ___" doesn't.

Besides, the book explains that Holden wanted to be in a field of rye where children are playing, and prevent them from falling off a cliff or something. So he would be a catcher (of children) in the rye (field).

Re:Catcher in The Rye (1)

mctk (840035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863514)

Hello, this is Homeland Security calling. We have noticed that your 1.8026175 × 10^12 furlongs per fortnight are well above your average rate of 6.

Be aware that until you have sufficiently raised your average rate to within 9.86153 × 10^5 furlongs per fortnight of your current speed, travelling at 1.8026175 × 10^12 furlongs per fortnight is a danger to this country's health.

Re:Catcher in The Rye (1)

Krach42 (227798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863542)

Hello, this is Homeland Security calling. We have noticed that your 1.8026175 × 10^12 furlongs per fortnight are well above your average rate of 6.

Be aware that until you have sufficiently raised your average rate to within 9.86153 × 10^5 furlongs per fortnight of your current speed, travelling at 1.8026175 × 10^12 furlongs per fortnight is a danger to this country's health.


Well, this is ridiculous, that's the same speed my image has always approached other people, irrespective of my speed or orientation. There must be something wrong with your instruments if they're telling you that this value has changed recently.

Thanks, Congress! (1)

LeonGeeste (917243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863432)

It's called "know your customer" regulations. If you do anything outside your normal, sheeplike existence, that's now a license for the government to harass you. So they freeze your bank account? Ah, no big deal to them. I'm tired of being treated like a sheep.

Not a reliable source (3, Insightful)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863435)

Quoting from Capitol Hill Blue is like quoting from the Weekly World News. It's reputation for accuracy is at about the same level. I'm surprised that it was not bat boy that had the run-in with the law.

Is there another source for this information? Quoting from CHB tells us more about the submitter and the submitter's reading habits than anything factual about the story.

Re:Not a reliable source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863453)

No kidding. When this was on digg it was already debunked as half truths.

Not necessarily a reliable reason, either. (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863557)

Ooookay, let's think this out. You're Joe Creditcardbanker, and you get a payment from Mr. Citizen for $6500. You screw up a little and neglect to credit it promptly. Now Mr. Citizen calls, angry. WTF? Where's my payment, dude? You've got two choices, Joe:

(1) Uh...I messed up, Mr. Citizen. Sorry! Please don't sue us!

(2) Not my fault, Mr. Citizen! You should see the forms the gummint makes us fill out when this happens! Blame Homeland Security! Blame Bush! Osama! Lions and tiger and bears, oh my! Come to think of it, you're gosh-darn lucky we managed to credit you at all...

In other words, let us take due note of Hanlon's Axiom: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Re:Not a reliable source (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863589)

The story originally appeared in The Providence Journal, where I saw it.

way to go! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863436)

fuck america, bush and his 9/11 hoaxes are the worst thing I have seen in my lifetime.
that and getting 2 posts deleted from slashdot, as they were unfavorable.

lets see how long this one lasts.

You're all being watched like prisoners... (5, Insightful)

webweave (94683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863437)

And Bin Laden is still free.

Isin't that funny you can be freer in Afghanistan than in the US.

How is relevant to stopping money laundering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863499)

Because, despite the sensationalist headline, that's what this is really about.

Of course, your post will get you mod points from the anti-Bush /sheep.

Re:How is relevant to stopping money laundering? (1, Troll)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863622)


Of course, your post will get you mod points from the anti-Bush /sheep.


Yes, we can't have anybody questioning the motives of the great American shepherd "Dubya" now can we.

Re:You're all being watched like prisoners... (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863534)

Bin Laden has a huge heap of money. Most people with similar sized money-heaps in the US are pretty free too...

On a brighter note... (5, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863586)

> You're all being watched like prisoners...
>
>And Bin Laden is still free.

He hates us for our freedom. All this means is that he's got less and less reason to hate us every day!

Let's run an experiment... (5, Funny)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863447)

Everyone on /. send me a dollar. I will apply it to one of my credit cards and then we will see how quickly the FBI shows up. I don't mind taking the hit. So as soon as I collect a dollar from everyone I will make the payment. Not a problem. Glad to do it. It's all for the experiment.

Re:Let's run an experiment... (1)

eosp (885380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863545)

Ok...what's your PayPal username?

First pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863448)

First pist!

Bureaucracy by the People (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863450)

My girlfriend in Indonesian and we've run into all kinds of bureaucratic hassles. None of it really makes sense though. There was one bank that wouldn't let me do a wire transfer to her at all but then another bank let me do it as long as the amount was below $3,000 and now we have a joint bank account and she can withdraw as much money as she likes using our credit/debit card.

Given that the United States is supposed to involve government by "the people", it always amazes me that "the people" choose to subject themselves to so much pointless bureaucracy.

Re:Bureaucracy by the People (1)

November 1, 2005 (927710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863485)

Your girlfriend fucks a lot of guys on the side. Way to fund that, loser.

Ever wonder if there's a reason you can't get any pussy in the same zip code as you? It's because you're a pathetic piece of garbage. Indonesian street whores are more than happy to take your money though. Keep up the good work. Your father hates you.

sincerely,
Dad

Re:Bureaucracy by the People (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863609)

This country hasn't truly been controlled by "the people" in many, many years.

Molehill != Mountain (2, Interesting)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863460)

Large financial transactions are monitored. They always have been. However, the threshold of "what's interesting" to the government has been lowered. Do I think this particular instance makes sense? Of course not. The government is simply trying to track "large" movements of cash that are outside of the mainstream to catch money laundering. I had a similar experience recently when I bought a new car and paid cash (recently inherited some $$$). Do I find it annoying? Yes. However, I also find it a necessary nuissance to help keep smugglers and criminals from easily moving money around through our banking system.

If you've got a better solution, I'd love to hear it.

Re:Molehill != Mountain (4, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863497)

"Do I find it annoying? Yes. However, I also find it a necessary nuissance to help keep
smugglers and criminals from easily moving money around through our banking system."

YOU managed to explain it to the satisfaction of whoever asked. Why do you think a "smuggler or criminal" would be any less clever than you were?

Re:Molehill != Mountain (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863553)

Well, at least it will help catch the stupid criminals.

Re:Molehill != Mountain (2, Interesting)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863532)

How about cutting off smugglers and criminals from the other end, like I don't know, ending the war on drugs? Would cut down on a hell of a lot of money laundering, end corruption, lower street crime, and lower taxes. Or do you hate freedom?

No. That is wrong. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863555)

Do I find it annoying? Yes. However, I also find it a necessary nuissance to help keep smugglers and criminals from easily moving money around through our banking system.
The REAL problem is when people accept this kind of monitoring as "necessary".

Enron dumped hundreds of millions of dollars off-shore and the government never suspected a thing.

These people pay off $6K of debt and they're investigated and you support that.
If you've got a better solution, I'd love to hear it.
Yeah, it's called "Freedom".

Sometimes it means that the criminals get away, but that's part of the price of Freedom.

Red Herring (0, Troll)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863629)

Oh come on. Check your political baggage at the door please. Trying to paint this poster as someone who thinks Enron-style white collar crime is OK is simply in very poor taste.

Tracking large movements of cash by private citizens is certainly useful in keeping track of criminal activity. Yes, it does inconvenience legitimate users of big wads of cash and I think we can all agree that this case was a waste of law enforcement resources.

And perhaps you are willing to wink at criminal behaviour so that you can secretly wire a few thousand quid to your mistress without having a few questions raised. I am not.

Personally, I give it another 20 years before cash as we know it today to be almost completely worthless. It would be like walking into a Walmart with gold bullion and expecting the teller to accomodate you. The world is changing.

That teaches them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863465)

To have so much owing on their card.

Sickening (3, Insightful)

Dukeofshadows (607689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863467)

This article is sickening. I understand that there is a need for watching large amounts of money that trade hands, but c'mon, we're now starting to scrutinize people who work to pay off their debts? If they're tracking us enough that they know on average how much we pay on credit cards per month, you'd think that the (insert government/corporate monicker here) would have an idea that people would like to get out of high-interest credit cards.

Personally I think this sounds like a poorly-shrouded excuse for this credit card company (among others?) to scrutinize their customer's finances and try to intimidate them into staying in debt for longer periods of time. Sickening IMHO.

One step at a time... (3, Insightful)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863469)

For a government that is deep in the pocket of credit card companies, the bankruptcy bill was the first step....

Intimidating people who pay off their debt early is the next step.

After that... jail time?

I wonder if doing it quick is OK (2, Interesting)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863473)

I've payed my tuition on my credit card a few times (almost $5,000) and paid it off the next day. No interest, no fees... just 1% cash back!

Though, I suppose JCPenny is more... terrorist friendly??

Unpatriotic (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863478)

Clearly what every patriotic and nationalistic citizen should do is maintain a large debt, so that they can send their monthly interest donation to the good credit company. It's honest companies like this that hold the world together, and we should support them!!

Seriously though - I wonder who has to pay the interest on that $6,522 between when they sent it, and when it was finally cleared to be put in their account... Actually, I don't wonder at all.

Well, you know what that means! (1)

martinultima (832468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863487)

Have to stop paying the bills – otherwise they'll think I'm a terrorist!

Fascinating... (2, Insightful)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863490)

My question is...how exactly would this identify terrorists - who are, presumably, the people that a filter like this would be intended to identify? I can certainly understand that unprecedented financial behavior can, in a very small percentages of cases, indicate illegal behavior (drug dealing, primarily), but how is this within the scope of the jurisdiction of Homeland Security? Don't we have the DEA and IRS for things like that?

It frightens me that the Department of Homeland Security has become the bohemoth it has, and it seems to me that it will, in short order, become the beaurocracy that it was intended to improve upon. Frankly, I hope that will be the case, as the alternatives are frightening; beurocracy was built into the constitution, specifically to limit the powers of the federal government.

this is actually to prevent money laundering (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863494)

Although it is definitely misapplied in this case.

Here's how you can use a credit card to launder money:

1. Sign up for a credit card.
2. Charge a few things on it, say, $100.
3. Send in a check to pay your credit card bill. Say $5000.
4. When you "find out" you overpaid, request a refund.

I know, this sounds like a pretty crappy money laundering scheme. And it is. But enough people have done it that banks have to look out for it. So when you overpay your bill by too much, alarms go off.

Other things that set alarms off:
1. Cash deposits over $600 (I may be slightly off on this amount, can't remember off the top of my head)
2. Many cash deposits slightly under $600 (seemingly to dodge the $600 alarm)

There's other stuff that will do it too. Can't remember them at the moment though.

If only... (1)

iSeal (854481) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863500)

Pull the $6,600 back out. If they complain, say you tried, they didn't want it. If only the world could work that way. They call Homelan security if you do pay, they call the FBI if you don't.

Re:If only... (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863616)

I'm pretty sure collection agencies get called before the FBI for past-due bills.

Not that ridiculous (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863506)

Aside from the massive privacy implications that concern us all, it's not that ridiculous to be suspicious of someone suddenly paying off a large amount of their bills, especially if there's nothing in their history to suggest that they'd be able to. Honestly, large cash influxes to do so often mean promotions at work, winning the lottery, etc., but they also can be a sign of a whole host of unsavory sources of income -- domestic drug dealing, acting as an agent/mule to the international drug trade, prostitution, gambling, spying, etc.

Whether we like to admit it or not, money is a primary motivating force behind questionable activity. Money, sex, drugs, and ideology are pretty much the big four. Whenever there's a red flag in those areas, it's reasonable to think what's going on might be suspicious. Whether or not that warrants being formally investigated is another point entirely, but you can't deny that someone who only pays off a small amount of their bills suddenly having the ability to pay off $6000+ looks suspicious at least on paper.

Re:Not that ridiculous (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863528)

Debt consolidation might look just as suspicious, unless they're able to tell that you're just exchanging one debt for another.

Oh yes it is (1)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863621)

"it's not that ridiculous to be suspicious of someone suddenly paying off a large amount of their bills, especially if there's nothing in their history to suggest that they'd be able to"
So why would I loan you anything if there was no hope of paying it off?

Yeah, Right... (1)

L3on (610722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863516)

Capitol Hill Blue is never very reliable, this is the same place that claims to have 'classified reports' from the US Secret Service saying that Cheney was in fact drunk when he accidentally shot Mr. Magoo. While that is still up for debate, if said reports do exists one would think that they would have been better publicized?

Link Here [capitolhillblue.com]

Bah, this isn't about terrorism (4, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863521)

This isn't even about terrorism, this is part of the War On Some Drugs. This is "Know Your Customer" from years ago, been going on over a decade in one form or another.

Any unexpected transaction these days gets the once over, any cash purchase over X gets reported to the FBI. (Last I heard, X was $10K) Buy a car with cash, get investigated. Walk into an airport with a sack of cash and it will simply be taken, no appeals, no trial, no recourse. Simply being in an airport with cash is a crime subject to asset forfeiture. Bitch too loud and they will simply arrest you along with the money. Been that way since the '80s.

Re:Bah, this isn't about terrorism (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863558)

It's the IRS, not the FBI and it gets recorded, and in some rare cases, investigated (like if you have a lot of them). It's a crime to enter the US with >$10k in cash and not declare it. Says so right on the form you have to fill out before going through Customs. Not sure about exiting the country.

So what! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863522)

So - whats the issue. His payment was delayed by a week or 2 while the authorities checked to make sure everything was OK? Big deal.

FYI - Terrorist "A" sneaks in with a little cash and a credit card. Uses the credit card for whatever (hhhmm, flying lessons maybe). He has no way to pay it off so the terrorists back home send in the payment. They don't want to keep up communication while "A" is underground preparing so only on occasion do they communicate and that is when they send in a payment.

Far-fetched? Maybe - but maybe this is the way 9/11 came to be and they're doing their best to find the bad guys before there is another 9/11.

Makes perfect sense (1)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863540)

I get it... terrorists buy bomb making equipment on their credit cards... then to have a "clear conscience" afterwards, pay their credit card off before blowing themselves up!

Give the DHS a Nobel prize... pure stroke of genius!

But seriously, why would terrorists be using credit cards (which already leaves a paper trail) and not cash, secondly, if you were a terrorist, why pay off the debt?

Re:Makes perfect sense (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863583)

if you were a terrorist, why pay off the debt?

This may sound more twisted but... for a terrorist who's killing in the name of God it may be your duty to kill the infidels but to not pay for the debt may be considered akin to theft.

You're looking at it from a legal aspect, the laws of man are useless to these people.

Makes sense in a twisted way (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863543)

How will the economy function if the credit department can't count on 25% interest on that ^$6500 they are owed? Those people are hurting the economy by taking charge of their debt load!

Heh (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863544)

You mean these people are not loading more debt (Oh my bad..."leveraging Other People's Money") onto their JC Penney's card to do their patriotic duty of financing a new plasma big screen at 27% interest? It's is every American's duty to conform to the purchase requirement of their individual Urban Pacification Device, tuned to the channels provided by Comcast Corporation.

Great Plan (1)

RedHatLinux (453603) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863547)

track people being financially responseable in order to catch terrorists. Because all know that while Jesus/Allah/ Budda (I love you all) excusee mass murder, they never forgive credit card debt.

The Terror is in the Credit Card Charges... (1)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863550)

Forget targeting people trying to get out of their credit card mess...Homeland Security should to be looking for the large cash deposits and not legitimate transactions where there is an obvious paper trail.
I think the Rule up here in Canada is any cash over $10,000.00 is reportable.

It's My Mac Mini's Fault! (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863552)

I guess I'm going to be screwed this month. I purchased a Mac Mini (PowerPC) a month ago with a student discount, made a double payment of $32 on the first statement that I got, and I paid off the balance of $851 when I got my tax return this week. I guess the FBI will be staking out my apartment now. Worst... the Mac Mini doesn't do a good job crunching the numbers for my nuclear weapon design -- uh, class project.

Infinite increase (1)

NicerGuy (411492) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863556)

Since I haven't paid anything in the last few months, anything I put in above $0 would be an infinite percentage increase over the last few months. How am I supposed to get started paying that off?

Chilling Effect. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863568)

I started to post the amount that constitutes a red flag. It isn't much and the fact that the amount is a secret is even more ludicrous. But, then I started to question whether I felt up to challenging the PATRIOT Act by disclosing this information and... I chickened out.

I guess it works! We're all fucked!

I'm in deep shit then (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863571)

I just got a loan to consolidate my debt. I'll be paying $20k worth of credit card debt in the next couple days. Each card will probably send up a red flag since all Ive been paying lately is just the minimums.

If they show up, I'm going to fight them- to whatever end. Somehow, I doubt they will though.. just a hunch.

Clarification? (1)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863596)

So let me get this straigt... If I don't pay my bills, my credit goes to crap and I become a deadbeat. If I do pay my bills, I'm a terrorist.

If I pay for items using cash, it is assumed I am a terrorist. If I pay for items using a check, the Ministry of Homeland Defence will question me for being either a terrorist or criminal. If I pay with credit, Chase (or whatever other company my credit cards go though) will break my legs with interest, plus the same penalties for non-payment or payment of bills.

WTF???

terrorism, no. crime, yes? (1)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14863611)

I don't see how this relates to terrorism at all, and my guess is that is doesn't relate. The government has always flagged large, unusual transactions of money. Mainly, they want to keep on the lookout for illegal income (drugs, etc,) and they also want to make sure that you paid taxes on any unexpected income. If someone who is has been collecting unemployment for the last 6 months suddenly pays off a $15000 debt or buys a new car with cash up front, chances are something illegal is going on. And if you happen to win $15000 on a trip to Vegas and you come home and put it in the bank, the government wants to make sure that you pay taxes on it.

Like I said, I doubt that this is really terrorism-related. It's more likely that this is another example of the government using their extended terrorism-fighting powers to fight regular crime instead.

Missing important detail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863614)

I call bullshit on this story.

While I understand and agree with the point it is trying to make,
the lack of a certain detail makes it pure BS.

If you've ever paid off credit card debt, like before
buying a house, you know that you need to call the CC company
FIRST and ask for a payout amount. If you don't do this, then
interest will continue to be calculated, and you will still have
a small balance left.

Nice try -- but making up stories is not going to get your rights back.

hahahah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14863619)

god, /. has gone downhill.
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