Why 308,127,404 Americans Are Going To Get Hosed

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by Simon Black: Another
Consequence of Economic Decline

Last week,
the US government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN),
an agency of the US Treasury Department, published its 2011 annual
report. There are a few numbers that are pretty
startling
.

We’ve
discussed before that FinCEN is the executive agency tasked with
ensuring that every US banker is an unpaid government spy through
Suspicious Activity Reports.

A Suspicious
Activity Report, or SAR, includes details of any transaction that
may be deemed ‘suspicious’. Naturally, there’s no
clear guidance on what is/is not considered suspicious. Banks, brokerages,
money service businesses, precious metals dealers… even casinos
are required by law to fill them out.

If you withdraw
an unusual amount of cash from your bank account, that could be
deemed suspicious. If you set up a new payee in your billpay service,
that could be deemed suspicious. Anything and everything is fair
game.

Banks and other
businesses who do not fill out SARs face hefty penalties, including
imprisonment. If they disclose to a customer that s/he is the subject
of a SAR, they have hefty penalties, including imprisonment.

When push comes
to shove and they have to choose between a nasty penalty, or submitting
a SAR about your unusual cash withdrawal, which option do you think
they’ll pick?

Unsurprisingly,
nearly 1.5 million ‘suspicious activity reports’ were
filed across the US banking system in 2011, well over twice the
number reported in 2004. On top of this, there were an additional
14.8 million ‘currency transaction reports’ filed
in 2011, a 6% jump over last year.

It’s an
unfortunate trend which highlights not only the end of financial
privacy, but also the massive amount of data being collected by
the government to keep tabs on its citizens.

According to
this year’s report, a full 36 distinct federal law enforcement
agencies requested information from FinCEN (and even more who haven’t).
Three dozen. And that doesn’t include state or local law enforcement.

That there
are this many federal law enforcement agencies to begin with is
mind-boggling… let alone the thought that some knucklehead
at the Fish and Wildlife Service has access to bank records.

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the rest of the article

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