On the Churning subreddit today, an active user who goes by REDACTED (Mr. X) explained how he was interviewed by the Secret Service over his MSing through money orders. Since I’ve seen Mr. X posting there before (calling himself a “heavy MSer”), I believe the story. Also, I’m quite aware of the red flags certain travel activity can raise via my own experience–engaging in frequent travel to the Carribean on cheap deals (though, that’s a story for another day).
What caused the Secret Service to get involved with Mr. X’s case was the dollar amount and methods he used to MS.
- He obtained the money order and deposited it within the same cycle.
- Due to the rules of the place he was obtaining money orders for, he took out money orders in suspicious amounts–large, but small enough to not have to be legally reported.
They then asked me how someone makes my salary has deposited millions of dollars in money orders.
The scariest part of this story was in the opening–the Secret Service first questioned how he had access to millions of dollars. It looks like the Secret Service had access to the data on the money order side, but not necessarily the credit card side.
Luckily, the Secret Service believed his explanation when he described how he earns credit card miles via the money orders. But they quickly shifted into questions about fraud.
The conversation ended with them essentially wanting me to acknowledge that I was breaking the law and that I should stop. They didn’t necessarily make any guarantees I was out of their hair and they also stated other agencies had been looking at me as well, but they told me they wanted me to stop from this point forward and they wouldn’t have to have another conversation with me. However, if they found out I did it again, it would be a different story.
It’s a good reminder that when we’re playing with banks, there are other “interested parties” out there. The same thing stands true for some of our crazy international travel.
I can see why the Secret Service would start wondering if this was fraud (even if I don’t agree with it). But even completely innocent travel to the Carribean can become suspicious to certain agencies. It’s a good reminder that there is sometimes more than points and miles at stake and we should be weighing all the risks we see–but also acknowledge that there may be risks greater than a bank shutting our credit cards down or being shut out of an airline program that we don’t see.
Disclaimer to any agency that may or may not be reading this–wink wink–I do not engage in MSing. This is purely informational. I do like traveling to the Carribean, though.
Note: After this blog post went live, the article was deleted. Since it appears the original poster reconsidered his choice to go public with the story, I’ve redacted his username from this post and replaced with Mr. X.