Dallas man wants answers about his spot on obscure government watch list

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 7:11 PM

DALLAS –- Luis Zamora’s frustrations began when he paid cash for a new car last week.

"We were happy as a lark," Zamora said of he and his wife.

But it didn't take long for that to change.

"It didn't take but about two minutes," he continued.

The dealership checked Zamora's license for the test drive, and an obscure, 60-year-old government agency inside the Treasury Department flagged his name. It was the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC.

The office essentially maintains a list of thousands of people from places like North Korea, Darfur, and Iran who are forbidden to do business in America.

“It went from being funny to not funny,” Zamora said.

The car dealer told him Zamora’s name was flagged as a Colombian, a country he said he has never visited.

Zamora's family escaped communist Cuba after the Castro revolution. He was nine when they left. Now, at 58, Zamora is a naturalized citizen after living in Texas for almost a half-century.

When News 8 conducted a search on OFAC’s public page, the only result was for a Jose Hernan Zamora from Colombia. It is not known why that individual is on the list.

Jose is Zamora’s first name, but Luis is his middle, not Hernan.

Zamora said the U.S. Treasury Department told him the car dealer’s search resulted in a false positive. But that's all he knows; not how it happened, how he can prevent it from occurring again, or if another name is somewhere deeper inside.

Hours on the phone haven't helped him penetrate the bureaucracy. Zamora also reached out to U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s office for help in settling the issue.

"It's scary and it worries me, because if I truly, truly need something, am I ever going to get help?" Zamora said.

Two questions that concern him are if he take out a loan, or if he can make any other large purchases. Not to mention the kind of records the government keeps.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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