Sunday, September 15, 2013

NSA Follow the Money branch spied on VISA customers, SWIFT transactions report

I have one big question to ask... if they had all this inside data what did they do with it? Speculate in the markets?  They sure didn't arrest many bankers!  16 Trillion from the FED and nobody went to jail? When I worked on the VISA transaction system in Foster City, it was well known there were certain VIP cards that were always automatically cleared.... 

BTW: Bloomberg data shows HSBC owns SWIFT lock-stock-and-barrel... and the vertical integrated market of add-on SWIFT services!   -Bill
NSA Follow the Money branch spied on VISA customers, SWIFT transactions report

Published: Sep 15, 2013, 07:31 PM

The NSA has been widely monitoring international banking and credit card transactions, a new report says referencing Edward Snowdens leak. The agency targeted VISA customers and global financial service SWIFT and created its own money flows database.

Referring to information leaked by Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor, German Der Spiegel reports that the surveillance was carried out by a branch called "Follow the Money" (FTM). 

After the information on transactions was obtained, it was redirected to the NSA's own financial database, called "Tracfin". 

According to the leaked documents, in 2011 the database contained 180 million records, with 84 per cent of those being credit card transactions details. 

Among the millions of records, the NSA's Tracfins also contained data from the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). Used to conduct business operations with speed, certainty and confidence, this global financial service is used by more than 10,000 banking organizations in 212 countries. 

The NSA spied on SWIFT on several levels, involving its "tailored access operations" division, according to the report in Der Spiegel. Reading "SWIFT printer traffic from numerous banks," was just one of the ways the NSA was accessing the information. 

One of the NSAs goals was to "collect, parse and ingest transactional data for priority credit card associations, focusing on priority geographic regions." 

According to documents dated 2010, the agency was spying on large credit card companies customers, Der Spiegel adds. In particular, the NSA was getting access to transactions by VISA customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Reportedly, speaking at an internal conference that year, NSA analysts described in detail how the search through the US company's complex transaction network for tapping possibilities was conducted. 

However, when Der Spiegel reached VISA for a comment, its spokeswoman ruled out the possibility that data could be taken from company-run networks. 

According to one of the documents, the UK's intelligence agency, GCHQ, admitted cooperation with the NSA to spy on the world finance system. In its report, concerning the legal perspectives on "financial data", it said that the collection, storage and sharing of politically sensitive data was a deep invasion of privacy and involved "bulk data" full of "rich personal information," much of which "is not about our targets."

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