Author Topic: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !  (Read 4560 times)

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Offline THCoins

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Once in a while i buy a few interesting coins through the internet. Never had any major problems with that until recently.
Especially for buying coins from the USA i thought PayPal was a fantastic invention. It is easy, and it avoids the ridiculous bank costs of transatlantic money transfers.
Unfortunately recently PayPal decided to terminate my account. Why ? Well i should have seen it coming: because i used PayPal to perform illegal transactions which were in violation of U.S. law and trade restrictions.
What did i do, buy fire arms over the internet from some supermarket, or something equally bad ? No, much worse !!

I tried to buy an ancient coin from a seller in the U.S. One of my territories of interest is central asia. I saw an offer for a nice, low price 13 th century Ilkan coin. The seller is a senior retired trader and collector who tries to sell his former trade and personal collection to other private collectors in his old age. The coin has been his legal possession for several decades. So i agreed to pay him the requested sum through PayPal.

But No Way ! Nothing escapes the watchfull eyes of PayPal. For in the discription the seller had put that this was an Ilkhan silver coin, minted in the 13th century in the Tabriz region. And Tabriz that's in the heart of darkness in American eyes:  IRAN !!!
So PayPal immediately blocked this evil attempt to evade trade restrictions with Iran.

Now normal decent people would think, ah, an error like this is possible, we just explain things to PayPal and go on with our bussiness. But then we enter the realm of a book even Kafka could not imagine: the PayPal compliance department.

First i got a fairly decent mail that they needed extra information about this transaction. Which i provided, after checking that this transaction was perfectly legal under US law. For this, seller also contacted the OFAC, that's the official US legal department in charge of trade restrictions. They informed him that these types of goods do not fall under any trade restriction, as long as you don't import them directly from Iran. The OFAC also contacted PayPal on this matter.

Now i expected a polite apology from PayPal, and no harm done. But no way ! Once PayPal has its teeth in you it doesn't let go. I never got an human answer on the facts i had explained in my mail. I just get repeated conputer generated standard replies. Only after two weeks they did change the accuseation. First it was that i advertised PayPal for selling illegal goods.(Which i definitely never did) Then it changed to using PayPal for buying or selling illegal goods. I again tried a new mail through their infallible electronic response system. And that's like walking with your head to a brick wall. For for furter processing i have to sign a pre-written declaration. This states (in short) that i am aware that i am guilty of the violations of laws or regulations of which i am being accused, and i declare that i won't do this again in the future.
The options to respond to this are "Type here: I agree :__________"

As i previously said to the seller: I am afraid there is basically not much difference between PayPal and the Iranian Morality Police.  OK, PayPal account is blocked, I give up.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 10:11:37 PM »
Horror story. You have my sympathy. I would just like to add that PayPal's fees are not moderate at all. In my experience, real cost for a transaction are about 10% of what PayPal (or was it PayPol?) is charging. International transactions are fully automatic. The cost for a transaction from the Netherlands to Belgium (0% if in euros) is the same for a transaction from the Netherlands to the US. Banks just get away with extortionate fees. The real cost are catching terrorists like you, who dare buy enemy coins.

Just to get you in a good mood again, I am soon turning 65. I should have had a letter from SVB about my state pension months ago. When I found out, I called them. I was told that it was all a matter of course. If you move out of the country, there is a burden of proof on you that you have ever lived in the country, I was told. Submit salary specifications for every month you are claiming to have lived in the Netherlands, I was told. I wondered aloud what happened to the payments to them, deducted every month from my monthly insult, otherwise known as my salary. Had their administration self-ignited, been blown up by evil Iranian terrorists like you or were they still using shoeboxes as a filing system? Their explanation was somewhat confused, but came down to a strict policy of SVB not to hire anyone who can read or write. :)

The NSA will love this thread...

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline andyg

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 10:25:56 PM »
Paypal and ebay have once again chosen the path of least resistance...

They have probably been informed by the US of trade restrictions to Cuban (post revolution) and Iranian goods - so the easy way around it is to block all sales that mention they are from those parts of the world - regardless of if the items fall within the restrictions or not.

I recently bought an unidentified coin which turned out to be Iranian from a seller here in the UK - maybe I should inform them that I have too been sanction busting ::)
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline THCoins

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2014, 10:29:17 PM »

@Figleaf: But now you really got me worried, i just thew out all my salary paperwork over ten year old.
 ;D Just kidding. I know that when i am eligible for a pension (from my 82th birthday probably) it will luckilly be normal again to move in with your children  ;D :-\

Don't worry, i don't get frustrated to quickly. I just put this experience down to inform others that i should have listened to the advice the seller gave me already at an early stage; Please don't waste your time on them, it's useless.

@AndyG: You just did  ;)
 

Offline malj1

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2014, 10:41:57 PM »
When I retired I was asked to provide the hours I had worked for the previous two years. Being self employed for about forty years this was an impossibility. However the official I spoke to agreed and ticked the file as completed.
Malcolm
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Offline Coinsforever

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2014, 01:23:07 AM »
It's pity first most culprit is ebay who are lacking in screening the items (so called illegal ).

Ebay & paypal are collaborating entities to facilitate buy n sale with payment transaction.

Why only buyer & seller held responsible ebay is more responsible to allow such products at 1st instance.

Cheers ;D

Ps : communication with ebay & its associates is waste of time & energy they just fetch their fees and protect themselves.
Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector's item.



http://knowledge-numismatics.blogspot.in/

Offline THCoins

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 01:19:08 PM »
Well, i believe eBay and PayPal do not deserve all the blame. They are partly the instrument of a paranoid government.
I looked into some of the relevant U.S legislation. At the moment, financial institutions, under U.S Law, are under legal obligation to install spying software to automatically monitor all financial transactions for possible sanction infringements.
Even if i have nothing to hide, this does not give a good feeling.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 02:56:26 PM »
That doesn't mean they don't need to listen to you and don't need to think. It certainly doesn't mean that you are in any way subject to US law, in spite of the controversial and arrogant extraterritoriality principle held up in US courts. If for the outrageous fees PayPal is charging, you get nothing but automated answers that require you to confess guilt before they may possibly once in a while if they feel like it listen to you as long as you speak their variant of English and the weather is nice, Paypal richly deserves a consumer boycott. Wish there would be other means, but consumer protection in the US is not worthy of the name. The ruling dogma is caveat emptor, which means it's your fault anyway.

Where eBay requires use of PayPal, it is for that reason alone unworthy of patronage. The obvious solution is to find out the name of the seller and buy from him directly, by-passing eBay and PayPal. For me, the solution is easy. I have relatives in the US I can supply with money easily. I ask them to pay my bills in USD and I pay their EUR bills. Cheaper as well as safer than PayPal and all it requires is some accountancy and some trust.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2014, 10:25:53 PM »
Fortunately ;) I do not use eBay, but I am a PayPal customer. Sometimes PayPal is just the most convenient way of making a payment, but yes, various dealers in Germany have learned what it means to (a) sell Cuban goods and (b) accept PayPal, a company that apparently feels obliged to enforce US law in third countries. In 2011 some parties came to an agreement before the issue went to court.

If it weren't for eBay, there would be viable alternatives to PayPal. Apart from what Peter suggested (I do it similarly, but of course that does not work in all cases), there is Skrill for example. Last year, Moneybookers acquired Paysafecard, and the "resulting" company has since May 2013 been called Skrill. Whether it works for payments from, say, the EU to the US, I don't know. Neteller is another payment service that could be an option ...

Christian
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 10:37:58 PM by chrisild »

Offline THCoins

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2014, 07:21:44 AM »
I already looked at some alternatives. For trade with the US it is difficult to circumvent PayPal. Thanks for the additional information. On the bright side: my wife won't mind if it becomes more difficult spending money  ;D

Offline moneditis

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2014, 01:48:03 PM »
Unfortunately, dealing with the USSA (any form of) is getting harder and harder; ebay / paypal with their absurd / ridiculous restrictions of / about world is what I say  :o

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Offline Bimat

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Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2015, 07:41:42 AM »
Any idea if the rules for importing coins from Cuba (or any other thing in general) or selling/buying Cuban coins on eBay US have been relaxed now? Obama is doing good job in improving relations with Cuba IMO (late but still welcome!) :)

Aditya
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 01:16:03 PM by Bimat »
Caution. The low-hanging fruits are still there maybe for a reason.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2015, 11:59:03 AM »
The deal is more about travel than about trade. It does give Obama executive powers to relax trade restrictions, but I doubt he'll move unilaterally, especially with presidential elections approaching. Both parties have more important things to consider than coins (the feelings of Cuban emigrants in the US and the Guantanamo military base among them), so expect no action until the next president is in office and you won't be disappointed.

That said, I do suspect that US tourists will return with Cuban circulating coins in their pockets. That wouldn't make much difference in the rest of the world, but you should see them appear in the US now.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline THCoins

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2015, 01:11:53 PM »
For an official answer straight from the US government look here.
But be prepared that Ebay has it's own infallible laws  >:D

Offline Afrasi

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Re: Beware of the US coin police, a.k.a. PayPal Compliance Department !
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2015, 05:31:07 PM »
As things are "controlled" at Ebay, Paypal and Co only by stupid programs by even more stupid programmers you can pass by easily. Many dealers write "Near East Coin" for a Iranian coin, "Caribbean Coins" for Cuban coins etc. These sellers ar NOT silly. They KNOW their stuff!  ;)