Treasury Confirms Using ‘MAGA,’ Other Terms To Surveil Financial Transactions

Treasury Confirms Using 'MAGA,' Other Terms To Surveil Financial Transactions

Following the events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol, the Biden administration has acknowledged using specific keywords to monitor private financial transactions. Newly released details from a letter sent by the Treasury Department to Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., have shed light on the extent of this surveillance.

The Treasury Department divulged that discussions facilitated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) had commenced under the previous administration. These dialogues, designated as “Exchange events,” considered a range of politically relevant keywords — including ‘MAGA,’ ‘Trump,’ ‘Biden,’ ‘Kamala,’ ‘Schumer,’ and ‘Pelosi’ — for scrutiny within financial tracking efforts.

This acknowledgment marks the first occasion the current administration has confirmed the specific terms associated with the investigative follow-up to Jan. 6.

Sen. Scott, who previously supported the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 and the subsequent FinCEN Exchange program for sharing information between law enforcement and financial institutions, raised concerns. In his communication to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, he criticized the use of “politically charged search terms” and flagged the potential infringement of privacy rights and unjust targeting of U.S. citizens.

An initial revelation by Fox News Digital, referencing an ongoing House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government investigation, indicated that FinCEN had provided guidelines to financial institutions. This guidance suggested using designated keywords and merchant category codes to help identify individuals of concern to law enforcement in anticipation of the January 20, 2021, presidential inauguration.

Among the materials uncovered in the investigation, there was evidence suggesting that transactions related to sporting and recreational goods including firearms, as well as certain book purchases — even religious texts — could be marked as potential “extremism indicators.”

Unnamed sources informed Fox News Digital that the contentious keywords – like ‘MAGA’ and ‘Trump’ – were initially produced by a bank to spotlight suspicious customer activity. The identity of the bank remains undisclosed. FinCEN then reportedly shared these terms with other financial institutions to support their regulatory obligations concerning suspicious activity reports.

Additional search terms outlined but not officially confirmed in the Treasury letter include those associated with white supremacists and antigovernment movements.