Certain words in Venmo descriptions could get you in trouble with the feds

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As technological advances continue to take over millennials' social lives, one iPhone app, Venmo, is taking over the game by enabling people to easily exchange money while keeping up with the online exchanges of their peers.

The creators of Venmo may have intended for people to write what they're actually spending their money on when using the app, but the publicity of said payments featured on people's Venmo feeds makes it far too tempting to have a little fun with the "what's it for?" section when making or requesting a payment. When paying a friend back for Chinese food takeout, for instance, a prankster may forego writing "Chinese food" in favor of shocking Venmo stalkers by writing "marijuana."

However, it seems that joking about certain purchases could actually put Venmo users under investigation. It turns out, everything people do on Venmo is subject to scrutiny by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, an entitiy within the Treasury Department that ensures U.S. citizens aren't sending money to terrorist organizations.



One Venmo user learned this fact the hard way when he made a Venmo transaction for "iced coffee obama nsa inside job syria." The user was put under investigation four months after completing the transaction.



According to a Venmo spokesperson, the company searches everything written in the app against a database of keywords. Not only does Venmo flag posts that mention countries sanctioned by the United States, it also flags anyone with a Middle Eastern name. In addition, any words related to drug cartels, terrorist organizations or any other state enemies risk getting flagged by the app.

Even when the blurbs people write into the app are obvious jokes, they shouldn't expect Venmo to make such assumptions. A spokesperson said:



Therefore, next time you're tempted to spin humor out of your Venmo transaction, you might want to consider the wording very carefully.

Watch this video to learn more about the Venmo app:

Venmo Social Payment IPhone App

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