In fact, banks do much of OFAC’s work for it, using government-certified software to screen transactions. If a money transfer gets flagged for some reason, the funds can be diverted into a “blocked account” at the originating bank that only the feds can access. That’s apparently what happened to us.
What’s not clear yet is why OFAC and the OFAC-approved software believe we are laundering money or which terror group is allegedly benefiting.I wrote at the time, "Comics wouldn't be a great way to fund terrorism. They don't pay very well. But now we know no one fighting terrorism knows how to use Google, which sure makes me feel safe." It turns out they at least have a Google alert on their name. The day following my post, Treasury spokesman John Sullivan got in touch and spoke with Axe.
“In the past banks have encountered false positives of names or identifiers of Specially Designated Nationals,” Sullivan says. “In most cases the bank will complete its review, confirm the false positive and complete the processing of the payment in a prompt manner.”
Not in our case. The block on our funds was still in place weeks later. A couple federal agents — not OFAC employees — got in touch with me, expressing their alarm over the block on our funds and volunteering to pull whatever levers they could to expedite some kind of resolution. Whether through their action or the bank’s processes, sometime around the new year the funds were released. I haven’t heard a full explanation yet for what went wrong and how it got resolved.