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Venmo investigates joke payment that mentions Syria

Planting jokes in the Venmo memo field is by now a time-honored tradition, and even occasionally turns the money transfer service into an improbably good social network. But writer Adam Johnson discovered that some jokes are off limits — like including the phrase "iced coffee obama nsa inside job syria":

Venmo told Gizmodo that the word "Syria" was what set off alarms. "As you probably know, Syria is a sanctioned country and we are obligated to follow up when we see payments that are related to a sanctioned country, individual, or entity," a spokesperson said.

This isn't the first time Venmo has taken a special security interest in a payment. Last year, Valleywag reported that the company froze an account after a user mistakenly put "Ahmed" in the memo.