Feds suggested banks search transactions for terms like ‘Biden,’ ‘Antifa’ and more after Jan. 6: Sources

Feds suggested banks search transactions for terms like ‘Biden,’ ‘Antifa’ and more after Jan. 6: Sources

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EXCLUSIVE: Federal investigators suggested banks search private financial transactions using terms beyond ‘Trump’ and ‘MAGA’ after Jan. 6, 2021. Additional suggested terms included ‘Biden,’ ‘Kamala,’ ‘Antifa,’ and more, sources familiar told Fox News Digital.

Fox News Digital on Wednesday reported that the Treasury Department’s Office of Stakeholder Integration and Engagement in the Strategic Operations of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, distributed materials to financial institutions that outlined ‘typologies’ of ‘various persons of interest’ and provided the banks with ‘suggested search terms and Merchant Category Codes for identifying transactions on behalf of federal law enforcement.’ 

Sources familiar told Fox News Digital on Thursday that the search terms, like ‘MAGA’ and ‘Trump’ were generated by a bank and used to help them identify suspicious transactions when reviewing customer transactional information. It is unclear which bank generated the search terms. 

The sources said FinCEN then shared those terms with other banks to help those financial institutions to comply with their own suspicious activity reports.

But beyond the terms identified by the House Judiciary Committee, the unnamed bank generated other terms, which FinCEN shared with other banks, the sources told Fox News Digital. 

The source said the additional search terms included: ‘White Power,’ ‘Camp Auschwitz,’ ‘Antifa,’ ‘Proud B,’ ‘Storm the,’ ‘Capitol,’ ‘Groyper Army,’ ‘Threepers,’ ‘boogaloo,’ ‘civil war,’ ‘last sons,’ ‘kill,’ ‘shoot,’ ‘gun,’ ‘death,’ ‘murder,’ ‘Biden,’ ‘Kamala,’ ‘Pelosi,’ ‘Schumer,’ and ‘Pence.’ 

The sources said the distribution of the search terms, including ‘MAGA’ and ‘Trump’ was done during the Trump administration.

The initial terms ‘MAGA’ and ‘Trump’ were revealed in a letter sent by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan to a former director of FinCEN. Fox News Digital first reported on that letter. 

The committee’s investigation also revealed that FinCEN distributed slides, prepared by Key Bank, to other banks to explain how they could use merchant category codes (MCC) to detect customers whose transactions may reflect ‘potential active shooters, and who may include dangerous International Terrorists/ Domestic Terrorists/ Homegrown Violence Extremists (‘Lone Wolves’).’

Jordan said the slide instructs financial institutions to query for transactions using certain MCC codes like ‘3484: Small Arms,’ ‘5091: Sporting and Recreational Goods and Supplies,’ and the keywords ‘Cabela’s,’ ‘Dick’s Sporting Goods’ and ‘Bass Pro Shops,’ among others.

Key Bank declined to comment.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

A source familiar with the documents held by the House Judiciary Committee told Fox News Digital that while Jan. 6, 2021, was the ‘impetus’ for the queries and searches, none of the documents the committee has obtained reveal any specific time frames or limitations for banks searching customer transactions with the terms. The source said the federal government used the information for investigations beyond Jan. 6.

It is unclear if the terms are still being used by banks to search private transactions. 

‘Despite these transactions having no apparent criminal nexus — and, in fact, relate to Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights — FinCEN seems to have adopted a characterization of these Americans as potential threat actors,’ Jordan wrote. ‘This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with and at the request of federal law enforcement, into Americans’ private transactions is alarming and raises serious doubts about FinCEN’s respect for fundamental liberties.’

Meanwhile, in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday and obtained by Fox News Digital, Jordan requested a transcribed interview with the senior private sector partner for outreach in the Strategic Partner Engagement Section at the FBI.

Jordan said the committee has received testimony indicating that Bank of America provided the FBI ‘voluntarily and without any legal process’ with a list of individuals who made transactions in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area using a Bank of America credit or debit card between Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, 2021.

Fox News Digital first reported on that portion of the committee’s investigation last year. Bank of America, in November, said the bank ‘followed all applicable laws’ in its interactions with the government. The bank noted that the Treasury Department on Jan. 15, 2021, ‘shared information regarding potential criminal activity that could disrupt the upcoming inauguration.’ 

‘We have cooperated with the committee as they evaluate whether the laws we complied with should be changed,’ Bank of America said on Wednesday. 

But in the Wednesday letter, Jordan stated that when that list was later brought to the attention of the FBI, the former section chief of the Domestic Terrorism Operations Section, Steve Jensen, acted to ‘pull’ that Bank of America information from FBI systems because ‘the leads lacked allegations of federal criminal conduct.’

Jordan said the committees obtained documents that show FBI personnel ‘made contact with and provided Bank of America with specific search query terms, indicating that it was ‘interested in all financial relationships’ of BoA customers transacting in Washington, D.C., and customers who had made ‘ANY historical purchase’ of a firearm, or who had purchased a hotel, Airbnb, or airline travel within a given date range.’

Jordan is requesting that the former FinCEN official and an FBI official appear before his committee and the Weaponization Subcommittee for transcribed interviews to aid in the panels’ oversight investigation. 

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