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Police use new device to seize money in bank accounts or on prepaid cards (news9.com)
607 points by jonstokes on June 8, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 504 comments

Radley Balko talks about this article and has links to more details of past asset forfeiture abuses in Oklahoma:


Here's a fun little video from the manufacturer extolling the virtues and showing a demo of their device: https://youtu.be/XYbgnCi7NYI

These are some truly evil people. Apparently they can only target prepaid cards with this thing, which unsurprisingly will disproportionately affect people with lower incomes (the "unbanked"). According to the manufacturer's FAQ [1]:

Intel™ and ERAD-Recovery™ will only retrieve balances from open loop prepaid debit cards. Debit cards attached to a valid checking account or valid credit cards cannot be processed using the ERAD-Intel™ or ERAD-Recovery™ system.

Law enforcement already depends heavily upon lower income neighborhoods to justify their existence, and upon criminal convictions of poor people that can't defend themselves to keep up demand for prison and jail guards. Now they want to take the money of those they can't arrest, knowing that their targets cannot afford to hire lawyers to get it back.

[1] https://www.erad-group.com/faqs

Yes, evil. As is Sergeant Rob Hain (of Chicago) who uploaded this...

"Sheriff's Deputy Ron Hain improperly detained Marsh after issuing him a warning and continued questioning him when he should have been free to leave, Barsanti ruled. The questioning led to Marsh's admission he was carrying a gun, which prompted further searches of his truck, phones, GPS and eventually the storage lockers."

"The discovery was made by exploiting the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights," Barsanti said. "He was illegally detained in a second seizure without cause." [1]

"Seized over 4,000 lbs of cannabis, over 50 kilograms of cocaine, over 50 kilograms of heroin, and over $1,000,000 of drug-related currency." [2]

1 https://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160406/news/160409204/

2 https://archive.is/Bf1ss

From [1]....“All of our home towns are sitting on a tax-liberating gold mine,” Deputy Ron Hain of Kane County, Ill., wrote in a self-published book under a pseudonym. Hain is a marketing specialist for Desert Snow, a leading interdiction training firm based in Guthrie, Okla., whose founders also created Black Asphalt.

Desert Snow created civil forfeiture training seminars for law enforcement. Black Asphalt is a system "that enabled police nationwide to share detailed reports about American motorists — criminals and the innocent alike — including their Social Security numbers, addresses and identifying tattoos, as well as hunches about which drivers to stop."

Now, he's stealing debit cards. This guy is quite the civil forfeiture innovator.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/09/06/st...

Owning a business related and supposedly selling to law enforcement while being employed by the force... Conflict of interest, anyone?

That's probably only a conflict on interest if they are involved in making purchasing decisions. Your mileage may vary. Always ask your ethics councillor.

I know legal protections apply to criminals, but it is hard to win a political battle against the cops who busted a big time dealer of life-destroying drugs (heroin)

Among the friends I knew the body count is

Prescription Drugs: 2 Alcohol: 3 Heroin: 0 Methamphetamine: 0 Cannabis: 0

Two people I know. Their brothers both died from Oxycontin(tm). Specifically pulmonary talcosis. You get pulmonary talcosis from the talc government made the manufacturer add specifically to kill junkies.

I personally knew 5 people who have died from a drug overdose, and that drug was heroin in all 5 cases.

They all actually started off by abusing prescription opiates, but moved to heroin after they ran out of money.

However, my area is known for being a heroin hot spot. I live in a decent middle class town about 15 minutes away from Camden, NJ. My high school was known as "heroin high".

The problem with heroin is that there's very poor quality control. Overdoses seem to occur under one of the two following circumstances:

1. The person just gets released from rehab and relapses. Their tolerance isn't what it used to be, so their body gets shocked.

2. There's a sudden spike in the strength of the heroin that is "going around". The person may be used to a certain strength, so the more powerful batch can be enough to send them over the edge.

Just figured I'd add my own personal data points since it seemed like you were trying to deemphasize the danger of heroin by pointing out that you don't know anyone who died from it. Maybe, that wasn't your intention, so forgive me if so.

I was in downtown Camden, NJ once a couple years ago, being given a tour by a black pastor who's focus was on helping the poor of Camden turn away from drug addictions. (Point being, he knew the city very well, and knew its drug problem very well.)

It was an absolutely astonishing time. Camden literally felt like it had just been through a war: desolate buildings, so many people homeless on the streets, people desperate for food. It's hard to describe just how bad this city was.

I can't diagnose all the root causes behind why Camden is so messed-up, but this pastor pointed to the heroin epidemic primarily.

If you haven't seen any of his work, Chris Hedges has written and spoken pretty extensively on Camden and Camdenesque cities. Heartbreaking stuff.

You know, it always stuck in my craw that so much of the heroin in the new epidemic came/comes from Afghanistan... Shades of Vietnam.

I'm not familiar with his work, I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion!

Mhm. I'll bite. Got a source? Government wants kill people who use a lot of Oxycontin to kill the people who snort it or something?

I could not verify this particular claim in under an hour of online searching. Relevant facts:

Oxycontin used to contain talc, and this came with prominent health warnings. Shooting up dissolved oxycontin pills containing talc is dangerous. See http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/020... ("with parenteral abuse, the [inactive ingredients], especially talc, can be expected to result in [many bad things]").

As of some time in 2014, oxycontin no longer contains talc -- it has been replaced by magnesium stearate. However, that health warning that parenteral abuse causes many bad things has not been altered except to remove the phrase "especially talc". Pulmonary granulomas are still specifically called out as something bad that will happen to you if you inject oxycontin. See the current usage information at http://app.purduepharma.com/xmlpublishing/pi.aspx?id=o .

SPECULATIVELY: this means that while talc is no longer present, oxycontin might still contain legally-mandated adulteration. I found no evidence for a legal mandate, but this was not a comprehensive investigation.

It has long been the explicit policy of the United States that people who abuse otherwise legal chemicals deserve to be poisoned to death, and we have had and do have laws to this effect. See http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_exa... .

It's that last point that makes me hesitate to slam your parent comment for fearmongering.

It was not simply the consolidation of our petroleum interests we were after, no? Hamid Karzai (our man) afforded us unprecedented access to humans favorite narcotic. Poof! An unprecedented alkaloid epidemic.

Acetaminophen is added to many prescription opiates in part to prevent abuse. (There's some question as to whether it aids in pain reduction beyond what the opiate would provide, but it certainly has near term implications for severe abuse.)

There's no question. Unlike, say, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, there is no "synergy bonus".

The added pain reduction effect of acetaminophen stands in no relation to what the opioid is doing. There's no research anywhere showing that the combined effect is any more than the literal addition of taking both (for which there would be no reason if you could just as easily take a tiny bit more of the opioid that you'd be taking any way).

All it does is take away an addict's choice not to wreck their liver. And the system encourages the availability of this unnecessarily dangerous substance by awarding it a less restrictive drug schedule.

The incentives are rather twisted in this particular case.


> but it certainly has near term implications for severe abuse.

the implications being death and permanent liver damage (it's not actually stopping addicts). but looking only at the numbers, it seems to limit abuse, even in the near term. ugh.

edit 2 seeing some of the other comments, apparently it's not just this particular case. I only knew about this one

Heroin: 4 Alcohol: 3

Just because you don't know anyone that heroin has killed, doesn't mean it isn't a problem.

How about the friends who died of the drug as a fraction of the friends who used the drug? If you don't know anyone who uses heroin, this post is meaningless.

Just a minor note, he is not from Chicago - it's not even in the same county as Chicago.

Yeah, people outside of Chicago tend to associate themselves with the big city... What they should really be saying is the "uncultured area of Bumblefuck around Chicago".

That ERAD won't be of any use in Austin or Englewood at 2am...

One swallow doesn't make a summer.

> will only retrieve balances from open loop prepaid debit cards

so the poor get fucked two ways:

1) these prepaid debit cards have a lot of fees and service charges associated with them, they're basically in the same financial category for the "unbanked" as predatory payday loans, check cashing places and other financial services retail operations you see in a ghetto.

2) the people who have these cards with some balance on them risk getting all their money jacked by the local police.

I wonder if it works on payroll cards that many low income people get in lieu of a traditional payday check. They are very similar to prepaid debit cards.

In almost cases, payroll cards are just prepaid cards that an employer has setup with a given prepaid card company for employees that don't have bank accounts, so yes.

Scary. These prepaid debit cards are being used everywhere in lieu of traditional checks from unemployment benefits, short term disability(maternity benefits) etc.

The thing that I don't understand is that these prepaid debit cards are only loaded from the government or your employer, hence guaranteeing the money is legal. Yet these cards are what is being targeted, because only the poor use them.

What's not to understand? Money is money, it spends just as well regardless of who gave it to you.

These cards are predatory because they have fees to withdraw, fees to not have the card expire and your money go poof, and even fees to even check your balance.

Some states have enacted laws (Illinois is one I believe) that prohibits employers using these cards if the employee does not wish to use one.

Employers use these cards because the debit card providers are willing to take on the cost of payroll for the privilege of gouging the employees in fees.

From your previous post:

> Yet these cards are what is being targeted, because only the poor use them.

Same reason as this:

>Employers use these cards because the debit card providers are willing to take on the cost of payroll for the privilege of gouging the employees in fees.

The poor do not have the ability to fight back, and their employers have the resources to make sure the gov't does not shut these things down and require proper paychecks. Never underestimate the rich's ability to exploit the poor.

Yep, grew up and have friends/family in Oklahoma. Disability and unemployment benefits come on prepaid cards, as well as tax refunds.

Most ATMs charge a fee to check balance, and a separate fee to withdraw money as cash. These cards do usually have a free phone number you can call to check balance, but you almost always have to pay a fee for withdrawal. And if you have, say, $19 on the card, it's effectively impossible to get that out as cash, because no ATM lets you withdraw in less than $20 increments.

Also, most blue-collar and minimum wage jobs use prepaid cards. At least companies like McDonald's as well as various factory jobs do. For McDonald's, according to friends at least, there is no option for anything else. Even if you have a bank account, you can't do direct deposit, you still get a prepaid debit card that your paycheck goes to.

Actually, they aren't the same. Payroll debit cards are protected by certain provisions that don't apply to GPR (general purpose reloadable) debit cards. Thankfully they have fewer predatory fees and it's required that 100% of the pay amount is put on the card. They can still be subject to very high ATM fees, and possibly inactivity fees (since the provider doesn't earn any interchange fees if the card isn't swiped. I can't recall all the details but I looked into implementing both versions at a previous job.

Just noticed my typo, but its too late to fix. I was torn between "almost all cases" and "most cases" and wound up with "almost cases" lol.

From the article:

    State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said that
    removes due process and the belief that a suspect is
    presumed innocent until proven guilty. He said we've
    already seen cases in Oklahoma where police are abusing
    the system. 

    "We've seen single mom's stuff be taken, a cancer
    survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being
    taken. We've seen innocent people's stuff being taken.
    We've seen where the money goes and how it's been
    misspent," Loveless said.
If State Sen. Loveless's statement is accurate, it appears that these victims were unable to get the charges reversed by their banks' fraud departments.

So what would this device look like? Is it performing ACH or wire transfer transactions? Or is this just sending card information to the company, which then automates the state government's garnishment process?

I'll be interested to get the full story when details are available.

I'm glad there's some pushback from the state legislature!

> If State Sen. Loveless's statement is accurate

As someone who is closely following the topic I would say he is pretty accurate.

Most of these laws are passed claiming it is meant to target hardened criminals. Good people like us think it is okay to take away any rights of people who we consider as bad. Given the choice cops will not knock down the door of Drug dealer known to have automatic rifles at his home but some poor old cancer patient who is unlikely to resist or cry.

These problems are not a creation of police. These are created by good people like us who do not empathize with criminals, minorities and other groups which by default consider "less human".

> These problems are not a creation of police. These are created by good people like us who do not empathize with criminals, minorities and other groups which by default consider "less human".

I agree that the problem is considering others as "less human" but I wouldn't exclude the police from that!

I understand your sentiment. But I think as a society we have allowed the legal system to evolve in a way that only Bullies will become and thrive as cops and narcissist jerks will become public prosecutors. They are problem but they are more of a side-effect of we not standing up for other people's liberty.

Some of us think there are good people, who have rights, and bad people, who deserve to have rights taken from them.

Some of us think there are people with power we need to impress and then there are people without power we can take from them whatever we want.

Some of us think we are all human beings and everyone deserves to be a part of society, to be seen as human beings with human wants, needs and human emotions, even when they do things that harm other people. And whether they even do that, is not for us to judge.

The first group needed people who were willing to take things from the bad guys, and picked the second group as police and prosecutors.

That's how we're in this situation today.

Your child ask you if they can go to your donald-trump-loving-women-should-stay-in-kitchen neighbour's house to play with friends. Do you:

1. Change your child's school so they don't mix with the 'wrong sort'. You're afraid what your social circle think if your children mix with children of people like that.

2. Your neighbours are racists and sexists. Petition their kids to be kicked out from your kids' school. They don't deserve an education.

3. Let your child go play with them, then if your child has a positive experience, let him go again next time. If not, protect the child from the consequences of not going next time.

And politicians are unwilling to do anything about it lest someone accuse them of being 'soft on crime'.

Looks, like it might be a bit problematic or something deeper given his wife's arrest http://kfor.com/2015/10/07/oklahoma-senators-wife-arrested-c...

Not from OK, so I get the feeling this affects things, but not sure how.

Thanks for the added context!

I'm not sure I provided any real context. It is data, but I have no real clue what it means. Thanks though.

Or a well off white guy had to deal with the police in a negative context for the first time in his life and that changed his opinion of them and the power they do or don't deserve

I think calling someone racist just because of their skin color and economic position is wrong and adds to the level of hate in society.

I read "well off white guy" as implying privilege. I am not sure that is the same as accusing someone of being a racist. The benefits of that privilege can help make your life easier, whether you asked for the privilege or not. And also regardless off whether you actively or consciously try to benefit from said privilege. I guess it does at least affect the way you experience life and the world around you.

Note: I am from Denmark and maybe I have a different perspective, even though racism is a problem here as well, but maybe in a different way. I was having an internal debate with myself about whether to jump in on this conversation just because it is a topic that can cause a lot of controversy. But I decided that self censorship, is a bad thing for society as a whole in the long run.

First of all, he didn't call him racist. Secondly, pointing out that for some reason long-standing problems suddenly seem to get a lot more attention once they start negatively affecting white people is not promoting hate - it is calling attention to racism.

First of all, he didn't call him racist.

When you start a comment with "well off white guy", you are indicating the person is a racist since they are ignoring problems of their fellow humans because of the person's race. If you substitute any other race in that statement, people would find it to be an accusation of racism. I suppose there is another interpretation of that line, but I am trying very hard to be charitable to posters (I do fail quite a bit).

pointing out that for some reason long-standing problems suddenly seem to get a lot more attention once they start negatively affecting white people is not promoting hate

from the article: ''It's called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.''

I would submit his current problem is not long standing since it started last month. Also, we do not know his history of speaking out about civil forfeiture. Why, the incident with his wife could have been a "shutup" warning from the police. I said I provided a piece of data, and I have not really had time to look at the context.

As to the second half, pointing out some issue is racial and the participant only started noticing because of their race is informing your reader that you believe that person to be racist.

it is calling attention to racism

Which implies that a belief that someone is being racist. Thus calling him a racist as he is the only protagonist mentioned.

You know, I grew up in the grey between two different groups, and I sometime wish I could have been raised in a suburb or had a little more blood to qualify as the other group. Being able to say "I am..." in a clear voice is an amazing powerful thing. I've gotten to see what absolute shits groups going too far can be on each other when one believes they can say and do things with minimum risk. Assumptions about people based on their race are just wrong. Judge a person by their word and deed with a kind eye and hopeful heart. I fail at this quite a lot, but I think I'm ok with what I wrote.

// as a side note, I love hnreplies and if I had cash I would suggest adding a blackout time feature

The fact remains he did not call him racist, whatever you believe he implied. For someone who claims to try hard at being charitable, I think you should take that into consideration. At the very worst if dsfyu404ed is calling Kyle Loveless a racist, I would have to argue that this particular instance of it is borne of ignorance as opposed to malice, which is an important distinction especially for your claim that he is spreading hate. Pointing out racism borne truly of ignorance is not promoting hate, even if you're wrong on the claim. Claiming a person is racist out of malice is (rightly or wrongly).

If someone (not a minority) is ill-informed about an issue that disproportionately affects minorities, to the point that they believe the issue is not so serious, and only when personally confronted with the effects do they take on a more fully-informed opinion and speak out about the injustice of it, I don't think you necessarily have to consider that person a racist, even if you think their behavior is a result of bias. And, while dsfyu404ed certainly expressed frustration with this state of affairs (as I believe anyone should), that still does not rise to the level of actually calling a person a racist. This need not apply only to race - it can also be rich people not caring about poor people problems, or men not caring about womens' issues, and so on.

For another example look at the opioid epidemic in the US now, compared to crack hysteria in the 80s. Suddenly drug addicts are victims of circumstance, unfairly targeted by unjust or antiquated laws, it's the drug companies' fault for pushing these treatments to doctors, etc. etc. Whereas in the 80s crack dealers were going to infiltrate your nice suburban community and turn your daughters into whores and your sons into foot soldiers in their gang wars, or whatever the hell. And it just so happens that the opioid epidemic is particularly bad among white communities now. However, that doesn't mean that everyone who is concerned about the opioid epidemic now, yet took a different view of the crack epidemic back in the day, is necessarily a racist in the usual sense. It could be they are ignorant of their bias, and lack introspection.

> "The fact remains he did not call him racist"

This is a pointless charade that fools nobody.

Sorry, what is the charade? Do white people ignore the problems of minorities in the US or not? If so, is pointing out the fact of it promoting hate?

At any rate, he did not call him a racist. That's not really up for discussion since the text is right there.

Although it's funny watching you guys fight.

Isn't the basic problem how much money the US government has spent improving the supply of heroin from Afghanistan after the taliban completely destroyed it during their 2001 rise to power.

If you have not been charged with a crime, can you just refuse to hand over your cards?

Then they charge you for obstruction (or whatever it's called in oklahoma, in french it's called "entrave à un agent de la paix")

It is obstruction of justice and it's very unpleasant.

If they're so inclined they can take your things by force and you will have no reasonable means of recourse.

Isn't the question, "obstructing what?"

And the answer, of course, is "Justice."

It's like being charged solely with resisting arrest.

Or destruction of government property when you bleed on them during a beating? Ferguson:


That seems questionable, how can they charge you with obstruction when you can just not answer any questions you're not legally obligated to answer.

I tried to write the long answer and it turned out as a wall of text composed of parenthetical caveats. Then I tried to right the short answer and it turned out as a medium length yet confusing answer.

The truth of the matter is that people are barely evolved ape/chimps and do pretty much whatever suites them as long as they don't get their ass kicked for it.

Thanks! I'm saving this comment for its general applicability to, unfortunately, anything.

Yes, that would be the fourth amendment.

He's referring to plain-old civil asset forfeiture.

Right, the legislator is referring to civil asset forfeiture, which is what the devices in the OP's article does too--just now they will steal money from your bank account if you happen to have your debit card with you instead of just being able to steal the cash you have in the car.

not bank accounts, not debit cards. I'm sure the police would like to plunder that too, but that's not what this technology does.

Edit: After feedback, I deleted my snarky comment, which I wrote based on misunderstanding the use of "plain-old".

>99.999% of everyone who knows what asset forfeiture is knows it because of John Oliver.

Asset forfeiture has been controversial since it started being used much more frequently in the 1980s. I really doubt most of the people commenting on it here first heard of it on John Oliver's show.

Haha, indeed. I think I'd heard of it many years ago, but I didn't really understand how fucking absurd it is until a story about it appeared here on HN. A year (~ish/maybe, my memory of timelines is fucking terrible) later I saw the John Oliver episode.

Radley Balko has been writing about asset forfeiture for about a decade. He has done more to bring this issue to the medias attention than John Oliver has. It is completely unfair to claim that no one knew what was going until someone famous began to popularize it more.

Not that there is anything wrong with John Oliver hopping on the band wagon, that's good thing.

Slow down there. First of all, the parent didn't claim to be a genius who had some pre-existing knowledge. Secondly, even if (s)he learned it from John Oliver, how does that make it less a part of parent's knowledge?

Furthermore, the use of "plain-old" was a way of indicating that this is a new method but an old process; eg, it's not legally any different from normal asset seizure.

Finally, and most importantly, I don't see any bias or why you even call it that.

It's best to just avoid snarky comments completely.

In your opinion.

Interesting choice of examples: Single moms, Christian band. (By the way, I know lots of Christian bands that are pro medical-marijuana).

(Edited to change "marijuana" to "medical-marijuana".)

Its not a particularly surprising choice of examples for a Republican politician upset about the practice that wants to highlight targeted groups to whom his constituency is likely to be sympathetic.

I agree 100%. Still, one group (single moms) is generally despised by them, and the other is favored.

> generally despised by them

That's a ridiculous statement. My church (both as an organization and the people in it) gives tons of money to single moms for everything from subsistence to fully paid Disneyland vacations. We run a volunteer group that does things like yard work, handyman work, and moving for single moms. The most visible charity outside a church in my city is for single moms. There are single moms who work in important positions at my church. The bible specifically points out on many occasions that those who follow Christ should show love and compassion to people such as single moms as Christ would.

The politically-correct sympathetic "single mom" is referring to widows and abandoned women, not a pregnant single woman.

Exactly. Republicans do not have a problem with single women per se, only unchecked promiscuity out of wedlock.

Not despised. I think they're likely sympathetic to their plight, at least on the surface.

Symptom of a bigger problem: nobody in the criminal justice system is punished for making the wrong move. There is no law enforcement downside to civil asset forfeiture. Officer-involved shootings are discouraged from prosecution or otherwise involve highly-paid "expert" witnesses saying the officer had no other choice - at taxpayer expense.

Prosecutors are valued by the number of wins, not by how many innocent people are spared the gauntlet of the American justice system.

Prisons (especially private prisons) are rewarded for high recidivism rates, instead of being punished for wasting taxpayer money on an expensive and brutal daycare.

If the state does badly enough it can get sued. So the taxpayers foot the bill while the offenders are free to do as they do.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: prevent this kind of garbage from happing without consequence by mandating docked wages/pension benefits to pay for all or part of lawsuit damages. Change the incentives and people will change themselves.

Bonus question: In countries that are still exempt from highway police robbery such as in Europe, what can we do to avoid gliding towards it? Isn't HPR a natural evolution of the increased number of police agents after massive terrorist attacks, like the two we've just had in France?

Simple: pay for things you need.

Over the last few decades the American people have been conned into this idea that government is fundamentally too big and needs to be shrunk because of reasons. People save a few measly percentage points on taxes that help pay for the axle damage on their car after being driven over roads that are no longer repaired.

Municipalities had to find ways to recoup costs from slashed state and federal budgets, which is why there is such a big problem in poor, mostly black American cities, as people are pulled over and fined up the ass for every possible infraction just so the city can afford itself.

This kind of crap has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with fiscal irresponsibility.

So police departments are largely participating in highway robbery because it's the only way they can get by? They're not spending it on margarita machines [1] or trips to Hawaii?

[1]: http://www.forbes.com/sites/instituteforjustice/2014/06/05/c...

More like the municipalities in general. That's why in many parts of rural America you'll find a cop at every other speed limit change, waiting for someone to notice the sign too late, catching people who don't necessary live in the area but unwillingly contribute to the local economy.

Municipalities had to find ways to recoup costs from slashed state and federal budgets

When was the last time you saw any gov't budget go down? I'd say never.

The gov't has more than enough money. The problem is where and how they spend it.

Other than every month in my home state of Kansas. Of course, that is related to much larger issues, but the same thing could be said for a number of other states in the midwest to a lesser degree. And those that aren't going down, are just treading water by pushing the costs down to the local governments.

The federal government slashed transportation budgets like two months ago which reduced my city's municipal transit budget by $300,000. Routes are being reduced at a time that high housing costs are moving people further out from the city center.

So no, not "never."

Just as important, make sure that local governments are funded adequately from higher levels. Completely deferring tax collection from central government to local municipalities creates a distribution problem where poor areas cannot collect enough funds to maintain the same standard as wealthy areas, which causes poor areas to deteriorate even further.

Absolutely correct. It is the great American tragedy that in a meritocratic society, schools are paid for by local property taxes.

European countries tend to tax more at a county or even national level, which makes the distribution of resources much, much more reasonable.

Don't fall for the trap of believing civil rights and due process are something only law-abiding citizens deserve. At this point in America enough people think that if you're accused of a crime basically from that point forward any "rights" you may enjoy are solely at the indulgence of society / the criminal justice system and can be (and, often, should be) taken away at any time. Unless it's really obvious you're innocent, it's game over, and even then any abuses will be written off as honest mistakes (or, in the worst case, a few bad apples) instead of symptoms of systemic injustice.

It also doesn't help that the public defender system in the States is a fucking joke. So don't do that, either.

> At this point in America enough people think that if you're accused of a crime basically from that point forward any "rights" you may enjoy are solely at the indulgence of society / the criminal justice system

I don't actually know any individuals in the US that believe this - the problem is that our government is so far out of our reach these days we can't effect significant change by simply voting for one of the two similar parties.

I can think of a few Senators. Right now the federal government claims the right to detain American citizens on American soil indefinitely and without trial. Look up 2012 NDAA Section 1021. The Senate is debating, right now, whether to add an amendment to this year's NDAA to restrict this somewhat, but even the Senator proposing this amendment (Mike Lee of UT) will tell you that there are circumstances where the government needs to detain American citizens indefinitely and without trial i.e. without due process. He just wants to restrict the current practice somewhat.

I'm glad you don't know anyone like this, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

Extricate yourselves from the EU, which desperately wants to become a single central government and will relentlessly pull in that direction as long it is allowed to exist, and go back to smaller, more manageable units of government.

Isn't a big federation required if we want to have any weight in negotiation against the USA? I mean all small lonely countries of the world are merly more than banana republics. But I retain your point.

> Symptom of a bigger problem: nobody in the criminal justice system is punished for making the wrong move

Step 1) End all police unions. There desperately needs to be a federal law prohibiting the formation of any police union anywhere in the United States. (we'll add this to the list of things that will never happen)

Soldiers aren't allowed to unionize. Some tried it during the Vietnam war. It didn't work.

One problem with that is government work, especially day-to-day law enforcement, already has a challenge in recruiting good, talented workers. The pay is generally lower than private industry and there's not much prestige to be had. Adding personal liability to the mix makes this situation even worse.

Not to say there can't be reasonable steps to move the needle toward accountability. Lowering the bar for perjury charges would be a good first step.

Well you say you get what you pay for. I live in a high-tax, highly liberal college town. Our community has a great relationship with the police - it's the campus safety pricks you have to watch out for - and the department is well-funded.

It should be no coincidence that literal highway robbery is being sanctioned in a state as allergic to good government and logical tax rates as Oklahoma.

You have a good point about personal liability and quality of service, and that's why any proposal of mine should should have very limited conditions, like unlawful civil asset forfeiture.

> I've said it before and I'll say it again: prevent this kind of garbage from happing without consequence by mandating docked wages/pension benefits to pay for all or part of lawsuit damages. Change the incentives and people will change themselves.

I'm less certain. It seems to me that this will only push the incentive further up the chain, such that the system refuses to ever find wrongdoing or even allow lawsuits to go forward.

A simpler and more elegant solution is to simply remove "criminal justice" as being part of the responsibility of the state. In my estimation, this will come at no cost whatsoever to safety, while also increasing quality of life for most people.

Yeah ancient Rome did this and they still can't get rid of the Camorra (mafia)

Yeah, I don't think that this solution has been viable at any point until now, but the proliferation of cameras and ease of transmission of video might be a game-changer.

Are you aware of even one example of a laws that are actively enforced that would have the same time of what you're suggesting?

Seems like all that would happen is new channels of revenue would be found that didn't have the blowback you're suggesting.

This reads like The Onion. I can't believe they're serious.

>"If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money it will be given back to you. And we've done that in the past," Vincent said about any money seized.

... Legit reason? How am I supposed to prove where every cent came from? What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

You're never charged with a crime, the object is and it is not given representation. So there's no "innocent until proven guilty" for inanimate objects.

Despicable, and akin to highway robbery in my opinion.

This is flatly incorrect. This is a civil proceeding, neither you nor your property are charged with a crime. Instead, a civil (not criminal) forfeiture proceeding is initiated against your property.

I'm not just being pedantic, this is part of why it's so incredibly fucked. They have, no exaggeration, taken a portion of the criminal legal system with all the constraints and due process requirements there, excised it with a legislative scalpel and grafted it back on to the civil system.

I honestly to this day don't understand why government is allowed any access at all to the civil system as a plaintiff, at least not beyond the local level.

Oh wait, yes I do understand: It's specifically to fuck the people over.

Sue a contractor for not upholding your contract with the federal / state government? Like road building or whatever else.

I have to imagine there's a giant pile of (criminal) laws they could use to prosecute someone who's trying to defraud the government. But your point is still well-taken, and it's kind of academic anyway - it's an incredibly valuable (and lucrative) tool for the government, of course they're not going to give it up.

It is literally highway robbery, as it is the highway patrol pulling you over and stealing your money.

In thread after thread on this topic - civil asset forfeiture in its various forms - I see people do elaborate intellectual dances to describe or title what this is.

Nothing more than: highway robbery, is necessary. You're spot on, that's exactly what it is, and it's nothing more. It's robbery. Using any other names for it, just assists the police in covering up what they're doing through confusion. Everyone should begin calling it robbery by police or the equivalent, and stop referring to it as civil asset forfeiture in public forums (that's only useful in a technical/legal regard).

In a similar vein, I liked the suggestion that we should start calling "Parallel Reconstruction" evidence laundering.

"Officer involved shooting"

These are all language tricks used to manipulate the masses. "Double plus good" is not a stretch at this point if we become complacent to this kind of manipulation.


"collateral damage" - these sorts of tricks are not new.

The CIA is the master of yhese euphemisms; "extraordinary rendition" for kidnapping and "enhanced interrogation" for torture.

That doesn't make sense. Objects cannot commit crimes since they aren't human beings and thus cannot act, have rights, etc. Is this what Statism has come to? I know we have the whole corporations are people nonsense, but this is straying even further into complete irrationality. I know it's just to circumvent the law, but if they can create fiction like that, there's pretty much no law and order anymore.

Because of War On Drugs people had no problem with this. If you had asked when this law was passed someone random Joe Schmoe on the street -- "Is this a good law, we'll get all those rich drug lords?". They would have probably nodded and agreed.

So the law was pushed through. Then some day cops realized they can apply this law for fun and profit. And so they have been.

> You're never charged with a crime, the object is and it is not given representation.

No one and nothing is charged with a crime in civil asset forfeiture.

But you do end up with amusing case names like "United States v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._$124,700_in_U...).

The currency is defined as the defendant in the case.

I feel like I'm living in the Matrix when I see things like this. There are people out there - lawyers and judges, who must be fairly smart to finish law school - who think "United States v. $124,700" makes perfect sense.

I was told when I first started graduate school that it's not about how smart one is, but rather it's about perseverance, the ability to jump through bureaucratic hoops, bite your tongue and do what you're told.

I have come to believe this since I've met some incredibly brilliant PhD's, but I've also met some incredibly dumb PhD's.

A PhD is more about elbow-grease than intellect. You do need some intellectual chops (in your field - you can be very naive outside it), but you need perseverance more than anything.

I've met some PhDs who would run rings around anyone in their niche, but would be (metaphorically) unable to tie their shoelaces by themselves.

Hey, if a corporation is a person...

The objects are property, and people have property rights.

Sure, people have property rights, which, in this case, they've stripped without due process. Or indeed, any process at all.

There's no way I'd carry a bank card in OK.

This comment[1] suggests that the product does not work with an actual bank card, only prepaid cards, which boggles the mind.

1) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11865494

The article says "Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards."

It wouldn't be the first time a news article was wrong, though it'd be nice to know for sure.

The original intent of civil forfeiture was to handle cases where the property's owner is unknown. In admiralty law or cases of abandoned property, the government sues the property but it's just a shorthand way of saying "whoever actually owns this".

The legal theory (which is a total crock and obvious constitutional violation) is that you aren't the real owner, you stole the property so the state can take it away from you. That's what creates the presumption of guilt where you have to prove you're the owner of the property, same as if you dropped it on the street by accident and the cops found it.

Anytime one of these cases gets close enough to SCOTUS for a decision on the overall constitutionality the police/DA drop the case. Most of them seem to know its a scam and don't want to risk an adverse ruling. There have been a few hints that SCOTUS is ready to rule the current scope and scale makes civil forfeiture unconstitutional but who knows.

> If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money

Exactly, why is it not incumbent upon them to prove that you have gained that money through illegitimate means?

Because this being a civil case, the legal standard is "balance of probabilities". In other words, if they can give a convincing explanation of how your money is likely to be tied to some criminal activity, so long as it's "more likely to be true than not true", they win - unless you offer a convincing rebuttal to make it less likely.

Here's the part which I don't understand: if it's a civil case, why do they get to seize the property before proving anything?

If I open a civil proceeding against you, I can try to prove that you owe me $5k and if I prove that to the appropriate standard you can be compelled to provide me with $5k. I can't hack your bank account, withdraw $5k, and then open a civil proceeding to retroactively legitimize my robbery.

The whole system is a massive violation of due process, no matter what legalese you try to use to justify it. If you're allowed to take people's property and then retroactively sue them if they complain, what is even the point of having the Fifth Amendment?

If the police catch a person running away from a recently robbed bank holding a bag of money do you think they should have to convict the person before taking back the money?

If there is reason to believe that someone is in possession of property that doesn't belong to them it seems perfectly reasonable for the police to confiscate said property.

This isn't perfectly reasonable though. Presumably the bank gets their money back when the cops catch a bank robber. But the police keep the money that they confiscate through asset forfeiture. They had no right to it in the first place so what gives them the right to keep the confiscated money? It's robbery.

In that case, wouldn't it be evidence? I genuinely don't know all the details of how this works, but I do find it disturbing that the police turn around and spend the forfeited cash. Should they be allowed to do that with the sack of money from the bank, in your example?

Sure, if it's clear who the property is owned by it goes back to the rightful owner. But in cases where that is unclear or nonsensical (like money obtained by selling illegal drugs) it goes to the state. Where else would it go?

Where else would it go? A disinterested third party - not the police department that had the power to confiscate it. The state or a specific public good - i.e.: housing/food banks etc. could work.

I do agree with this actually. Rather that going straight to law enforcement budgets the money should go to the general coffers to be allocated by the legislature.

I'd rather see it directed, specifically, to needed public goods. Otherwise it becomes just another generic revenue source (i.e.: a tax) and, over-time, it becomes all too tempting to still milk it for more money. Red light cameras are a good example of this. Revenues from them (in Chicago, at least) went to the city's general fund. That didn't stop the city from reducing yellow light times to increase revenues.

I like that goal too, but I'm not sure how to really do that. A lot of states direct all lottery money to education but that just allows the states to spend less on education out of the general fund. Ultimately money is a fungible thing. No way around that.

That's certainly fair/true. FWIW, I appreciate the symbolism and/or keeping revenue streams constrained. At least that forces governments to be honest in taxation rather than allowing these back-door taxation strategies.

It goes to the state after due process.

That's not what's being described here.

There is due process for civil asset forfeiture.

There's a process, but it's not "due" to anything but avarice and corruption.

It's actually due to the well established legal procedures of our country.

I'm no Con Law scholar, but where exactly do you find a basis for United States v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency in either the writings or expressed intentions of our founders?

That is the discussion going on - that what _could_ be due process is being manipulated for the various departments' purposes.

I don't think the argument is "police shouldn't confiscate [stolen] property from somebody they're detaining because of suspicion the individual has committed a crime", it's "police should not take property unrelated to the crime and, in the event the individual is cleared of any wrongdoing, return _all_ property", the latter of which isn't happening.

If it turns out the guy running away from the bank just likes jogging with a bag of money the police should return his money and whatever else _immediately_ after the person is released.

> police should not take property unrelated to the crime

How about "police should not take property where no crime is known to have been committed"

If the police catch a person running away from a recently robbed bank holding a bag of money do you think they should have to convict the person before taking back the money?

Yes. The money may be held in escrow pending the trial, but appropration by police is unjust -- and should be illegal if the person is not charged and arrested.

So if it's clear that a person is in possession of illegally obtained property, but it's a mystery exactly how they got it so law enforcement can't indict them for a crime, they should just get to keep it?

If how the individual came into possession of the property is a mystery, how is it clear the property was illegally obtained? I would be hard-pressed to prove that many of my assets truly belong to me.

Edit: all of this is off-topic, as the bank can be proven the owner and the police would not keep the money.

If it's "clear" the money result from illegal activity, they will be charged with a crime. Surely you are not advocating replacing the courts with truthiness and gut feelings?

No, I'm just saying that the legal standard for proving that property (usually money) was obtained illegally is lower than the legal standard for convicting someone for a crime and throwing them in jail.

Asset forfeiture is, and always has been, subject to judicial oversight.

The entire point of this story (and others like it) is precisely that there is NO judicial oversight over this kind of police theft.

That is a misreading of the story. This story outlines a method that allows law enforcement to confiscate money stored on pre-paid credit cards in a similar fashion to how they've previously confiscated cash. It says nothing at all about judicial oversite.

There are, in fact, well established and relatively simple procedures for contesting civil forfeiture. There is a fair argument to be made that they sometimes don't work as well as they should but when you say that there is "NO judicial oversight" at all you are just just flat out wrong. You need to update your worldview if you want it to conform to reality.

How do you propose to detect when the reason is fabricated? Legal systems need to be able to detect insider attacks on themselves.

This is why someone who has assets confiscated can make a claim (with a very low burden of proof) to get them back. People here are making it sound like that doing this is incredibly difficult or expensive but it's really not.

The Christian rock band raising money for a Thai orphanage[1] was a slam dunk, in terms of this so-called "low burden of proof", but it still took them two months to get their money back.

(Edited to add: I just realized they didn't actually get their money back. They got a check. Yep. You can generally cash those for free if you have a bank account.)

Imagine the situation of someone whose circumstances are less clear, or who can't otherwise afford to stay in one place and fight the seizure for however long it actually takes.

What happens to the person who just had all of their money taken away?

[1] http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/months-after-53-00...

Depriving someone of their property – even temporarily – and forcing them to spend otherwise profitable time making a claim to get it back is a form of damage. What you're proposing would allow agents of the government to damage people as frequently as they wanted, with impunity.

You realize you can be arrested and held in jail before a trial right? That's exactly same thing as confiscating assets pending a trial.

You didn't mention a trial in your previous post, but rather a low standard of evidence to "make a claim". In that scenario, the burden of proof is on the victim of the property seizure rather than the accuser, which makes it different IMO.

The burden of proof in civil asset forfeiture trials (and there is a trial) is still on the plaintiff. It is not on the victim.

False, at least in the US. The government's case is considered to be against the property, not against you. The standard of legal proof is a preponderance of evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. "Assets [are only] returned if [the] owner proves [his/her] innocence". See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_forfeiture_in_the_United... for details.

"preponderance of evidence" is still a burden on the plaintiff. It's just a lower standard than "beyond a reasonable doubt".

In practice in the United States it's been shown to present little to no burden. These cases have been widely covered in the press. Again, see the link.

only for a short period of time before getting to address a judge

That's actually not true at all. You can be held in jail for months pending completion of a trial depending on your ability to make bail and the seriousness of the crime in question.

Pay stubs? Employer testimony?

And the scanner maker gets a 7% cut. What could go wrong: "the state is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash the highway patrol seizes"

> And the scanner maker gets a 7% cut.

And if the courts decided that the asset forfeiture was incorrect and reimburse the person it was stolen from—does the scanner maker still keep their cut? Or are they still due their cut?

Wouldn't be surprised if the tax payers end up taking the hit there. Highly doubt the company would.

They keep their cut.

This is probably why it is incredibly difficult to dispute it and the police will put up every roadblock to stop you.

Highwaymen don't go away, they just get new uniforms and tools.

Particularly egregious is Lt. Vincent's take:

>"If you can prove can[sic] prove[sic] that you have a legitimate reason to have that money it will be given back to you. And we've done that in the past," Vincent said about any money seized.

Another polite way of stating "guilty until proven innocent" with the added twist of "punished in any case". That is seriously messed up.

In other words, "if we think you could sue us and set a precedent, we will give you your money back. But if you're poor, we won't respond to your phone calls."

Time to lookup ERAD Inc. online. Fun times ahead!

I'm already spinning up a comprehensive FOIA request with MuckRock.com. Feel free to reply to my comment if anyone would like to collaborate.

Can you include something like this?

"What states does ERAD currently have contracts with? With what states does ERAD anticipate contracts to be signed in the next 180 days, and for all of these states, what percentages will ERAD be earning on funds seized?"

I'd need to FOIA every police department in order to do this :/ Not scalable. I can create a template that can be used whenever its discovered which police departments are using their services.

I'm in touch with the news station that has the contract, so I should be able to get it without an additional FOIA request. Once I have that, I'll recurse further if necessary.

I'd love to see what progress you make with this

I'm interested in three things:

1) ERAD training materials disseminated to law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

2) Correspondence between those LEAs and DHS, or occurring in DHS forums, regarding ERAD technology.

3) DHS reports, studies or memoranda mentioning ERAD usage in the field by DHS or any other agency.

I figure DHS Science & Technology Directorate might not be the right target. Should I just aim at DHS directly, or is there a specific group that would handle those connections between DHS and other law enforcement?

Should I structure this as three separate requests?

Thank you for this

Yes, please. Thanks.

With luck, you'll get in touch with me on the right afternoon, and I'll immediately put plenty of energy into this.


Don't forget!

I'd like to see what you come up with.

thank you

I found their website, and a page describing the service I believe these police are using. https://www.erad-group.com/fci

Also, I noticed that site:www.erad-group.com doesn't return anything on google, but it does on other search engines. Did ERAD request that it be removed from search results? Why would they do that? Why would they also not have a robots.txt if that is the case?

From their html source:

  <meta name="robots" content="noindex" />
  <meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOINDEX, FOLLOW" />
  <meta name="ROBOTS" content="INDEX, NOFOLLOW" />
  <meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW" />
Not sure what they are intending here. But my guess is they don't either.

[edit: submitted too soon by mistake]

I think they mean that case-sensitive crawlers are disallowed, and they reserve the right to arbitrarily sue case-insensitive crawlers under the CFAA.

Ugg...that's a super evil version of the classic "razor blade" business model.

> Here's how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.

Given the low-threshold for seizure and how we've seen civil-asset forfeiture exercised by law enforcement, that's terrifying.


"We've seen single mom's stuff be taken, a cancer survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being taken. We've seen innocent people's stuff being taken. We've seen where the money goes and how it's been misspent," Loveless said.

It boggles the mind that this doesn't violate due process.

The despicable logic they use is that they're not charging the person with a crime (because people have due process rights), they're charging an inanimate object, the money, the car, etc. Property doesn't have due process rights, apparently.

Seriously. If you look at the court cases for asset forfeitures, it is titled "The State of Oklahoma vs $1,534.32 in cash" or "Iowa vs 2014 Mercedes".

Well, the real funny asset-forfeiture case names are United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls and United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins.

But the likes of United States v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency is obviously more dangerous than either of those:


And the list of cases here is hilarious as well: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_rem_jurisdiction

like United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Articles Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo-Fly Powders for Drunkenness, or United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton, or Marcus v. Search Warrant of Property at 104 East Tenth Street, Kansas City, Missouri, or R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. v. The Wrecked and Abandoned Vessel, R.M.S. Titanic ...

These sound like McSweeneys article titles

Strictly speaking, they are accusing the asset of being a nuisance (sometimes, though not always, as a result of being an instrumentality in a crime -- but civil asset forfeiture doesn't require a crime to have been involved at all; they are also providing both public notice and private notice to the person (if any) from whom the property was seized of the action, and anyone who has an interest in the asset (whether the person, if any, from whom it was seized, or any other person) has the right to assert that interest, at which case they have all the rights normally attendant to civil process [not criminal process, because its not a criminal action, and criminal penalties can not be imposed.])

> Seriously. If you look at the court cases for asset forfeitures, it is titled "The State of Oklahoma vs $1,534.32 in cash" or "Iowa vs 2014 Mercedes".

That type of thing is ok in Admiralty Law, but should have no place in criminal law. How we got to a point where things can be taken from someone who is not convicted of a crime is beyond belief.

> That type of thing is ok in Admiralty Law, but should have no place in criminal law.

It doesn't take place within criminal law.

(There is also "criminal asset forfeiture", which is a different beast, and takes place within normal criminal process against a particular criminal defendant: that is a part of criminal law, and its a lot less controversial than civil asset forfeiture.)

ok, fine, but I think civil asset forfeiture in this context is misnamed and bs.

There's a whole stack of gold bricks in Ft. Knox that's done me wrong. Where can I file?

> Property doesn't have due process rights,

Apparently, property doesn't really belong to us.

try not paying your property tax and see what happens. Deeds mean nothing. Receipts mean nothing. Registration means nothing. The State owns everything.

Well if property is people, then of course not silly!

Corporations are also people, so you can't really have one of those either.

How can an inanimate object be charged with a crime? It's inanimate, so by definition cannot make a decision...

Also, if they're confiscating assets, why not confiscate the car? Why just the cash/cards?

How do we get this absurd law overturned? What's the minimum required? Supreme court decision?

They've long confiscated cars and cash. They're just upping their game.

Yeah... Now, the logic is:

"You have a bunch of money on your ATM card. You can potentially go to an ATM take out cash, then get drugs. Now, I need to seize all your money to ensure you can't buy those illegal drugs that may or may not exist."

They are civil cases- the objects aren't being charged with crimes.

I guess married mothers, non-sick people and secular bands would all be fair game.

Shouldn't this just be "Citizens robbed by police".

In India at least they have the decency to say "Do you have a gift for me?" so you know what's happening.

My dad would pretend to be hard of hearing and deliberately misunderstand ad nauseum until waved on his way, this would happen about once a month while going about his lawful business.

He even gatecrashed a police function and got himself a picture shaking hands with the Chief of Police. He kept the photo in the vehicle so he could produce it and attempt to start up a conversation as though they were great friends.

This is a country where the guards of the police armoury were bribed with $5 to allow weapons to be removed.

I'm pretty sure the speaker was trying to point out a few examples which he thought the audience would sympathize were unlikely to be threats or otherwise engaged in criminal activity.

Of course all of these forfeitures stink of illegality, regardless of the victim. Forth Amendment? Never heard of it, apparently.

Yes, undoubtedly that was the idea. But "Vulnerable person exploited" is really less of a story than "police rob citizens". You could add "at gunpoint" to bait it.

I'm sure they're going to use that bullshit legal reasoning that because the money committed the crime, the money itself can be held responsible and seized, and money doesn't have 4th amendment protections because it's not a person.

Yet if it's not a person, it can't be convicted of a crime either. Has a dog ever been charged for biting, instead of its owner?

Lots of times, plenty also found guilty, including a swarm of crickets who were excommunicated.


What makes you think money can't be put on trial?


Oh I'm aware of that. I was pointing out the logical inconsistency between "not a person, so no 4th amendment" and "not a person, so no case"

There is no logic here. The 4th amendment clearly states papers are protected, cash is paper. It's protected no matter what retarded logic you use.

Not disagreeing with you but that quote is specifically about standard CAF, nothing to do with this new card process.

Yeah that's terrible. You could be completely clean and have the trooper suspect you because he thinks you look shifty or something.

This is a copy of the contract that the OHP with ERAD Group:



* ERAD is taking 7.7% of all funds seized.

* Anywhere between 9.95 and 14.95 per each virtual terminal used to scan for the funds.

* $1000-ish per physical terminal used.

Searching for "debit" brings up this:

> In addition to presenting the value associated with a card, the terminal will read other card types such as credit and debit cards. While no value can be provided, the terminal will display a “card not supported” message to alert the trooper that this is not a prepaid card. The trooper can then compare the four digits displayed on the terminal with the last four digits shown on the face of the card to determine if the card has been cloned. If the last four digits on the face of the card do not match the four digits displayed on the terminal, the trooper should note the discrepancy and pursue further action in the investigation.

I'm not really sure why they compare the last 4 digits to detect a clone, that seems wrong to me. But in any case, that strongly implies that they can't seize from debit cards linked to bank accounts. They can only seize from prepaid cards.

"I'm not really sure why they compare the last 4 digits to detect a clone, that seems wrong to me."

It catches lazy counterfeiting. Stamp a whole bunch of cards with the same number and info, while the magstripe is what gets read and is the real account you're stealing from, the theory being that no-one really cares about the number printed on the card.

Some retailers do this too, ask or enter the last four of the card to make sure the imprint matches the magstripe, as if they don't it's most likely a cloned card.

I particularly enjoy when a cashier asks me to read the last 4 digits of the card, rather than following the instructions on the terminal (which say something like "Give card to cashier...").

Oh. I had no idea why they did this. That makes sense. I guess I just figured it was so easy to PROPERLY clone and stamp a card, that it didn't cross my mind..

More than that, in the case of cards that use the credit card numbering system, instead of just ordinary bank cards, the number itself is algorithmically generated and the last 4 digits (specifically the very last one) act as a kind of hash check (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luhn_algorithm). Not that police or cashiers are likely to know that.

Oh huh! I had no idea.

Thank you. This is the piece of information I was looking for. Essentially they will drain any prepaid cards while validating credit and debits. This makes the 'fraud reversal' technique mentioned elsewhere in this thread infeasible, as to my knowledge you can't do a reversal on prepaid cards.

That is physically revolting.

First you have civil-asset forfeiture that let's police seize money from you when you are carrying large amounts of cash (with a generous false positive rate potentially disastrous to victims).

Now to get around that, you could try handling everything by card or bank transaction (unless you're one of the unfortunate few without access to a bank account due to low credit rating or other legitimate reasons). And now they can seize that too?

That's not ripe for abuse, that's designed for abuse.

As a non-American, what's wrong with your country?

A whole lot is wrong. I was born here and love the country, but increasingly fear for my safety and well-being: our employer pays nearly $20,000 per year for NHS-equivalent health insurance (two adults, no children), basic prescriptions cause multi-month fights due to claim denials on drugs my doctor instructed me to take, patent trolling is endemic and a real threat to small bootstrapped companies, a pathological liar is one step away from the White House and lending legitimacy to anti-first-amendment and white supremacist groups, literal highway robbery is real, and as best as I can tell money has come to be held above life itself.

I'm profoundly disillusioned, and not sure where to go from here.

You forgot: the TSA, the "warning shots in the chest" (it's a meme), the 6% of black people currently in prison, the 1% of all population currently in prison, the freedom you export (another meme - yes I'm talking about the drone-based assinations outsourced to private companies), and the NSA patently ignoring any interpretation-by-a-reasonable-man of the constitution. But it really cheers my heart that there are so many people gathered on HN who see through the problems.

Trump is only the natural leader to this army of thugs, exactly like in 1934 in Germany. Let's hope that if your country falls into that trap, there will be an even bigger country to come and save you, like you did for us in 1944.

Let's hope that if your country falls into that trap, there will be an even bigger country to come and save you, like you did for us in 1944.

That would be Russia, China, or Canada.

Historically, Canada has always been a release valve of sorts for abuses of the US. Just look at the Vietnam war or (in a much larger sense) the underground railroad.

I hate to delve into the politics, but...

a pathological liar is one step away from the White House and lending legitimacy to anti-first-amendment ... groups

These complaints actually describe both major-party candidates pretty well.

not sure where to go from here.


Last revolution was the civil war. The people at the top forgot what the people at the bottom are capable of.

> Last revolution was the civil war.

That depends how you define "revolution" (if you set the right scale cut-off, it was the last armed revolt meeting the cutoff, but not all "revolutions" are "armed revolts" and vice versa; particularly, for the latter, "revolution" often implies success, not merely an attempt, at replacing the aspects of the status quo ante against which the putative revolution is aligned, which those revolting in the Civil War spectacularly failed to do.)

One could argue that some or all of the suffrage movement, temperance movement, and civil rights movement (and maybe others) were "revolutions" that are more recent -- and more successful (if only in the short-term, in the second case) -- than the Civil War, though none of them were primarily armed revolts.

I hope it doesn't come to this. IMO the people cheering on Trump as a way of "getting the nightmare out of the way and moving on" need to study and understand the human cost incurred the last time that happened.

One pillar of the traditional Republican support for Israel is the Christian effort to usher in the apocalyptic war that will bring forth the second coming of Jesus Christ.

...? Not sure if you are being sarcastic, but nowhere in Christian Bible does it teach that somehow the human race can either "usher in" or prevent the end times.

That'll be bad for everyone involved. Even the victors will have a rough time of it; and from your perspective, there's a non-trivial chance they don't align with your beliefs. People advocating for this have no concept of warfare in general, nevermind in a modern setting. The people hurt the most are always the innocent non-combatant civilians.

> The people hurt the most are always the innocent non-combatant civilians.

That isn't true now anyway?

I don't advocate for anything, all I know is if the current trend continues, like every other free society that has gone down this same road, It will end very badly and then will improve for a generation or so.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure." - Thomas Jefferson

I'm sorry but no. The vast majority of examples of violent revolution end badly for everyone involved, even the victors. The phrase "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" has a lot of truth to it.

That's, of course, humoring the notion that this is in the cards in the developed world. If you step out of the echochambers on the Internet and interact with people in reality, you begin to see that things aren't nearly as bad as the curated outrage porn would lead you to believe.

>The largest part that we have found ... the biggest benefit has been the identity theft,

Oh, so if I have a card in someone else's name, you'll charge it, thus causing someone who doesn't even know about it to lose?

Any lawyers here want to weigh in on whether this would be identity theft/credit card fraud/etc on the part of the police and hence illegal? Isn't scanning/charging a card without authorization illegal?

I took this to mean that the police are stealing peoples identities and it's been very beneficial for them.

This is the most interesting quote. How do these devices help in the case of identity theft?!

How can charging a card help either the bank or the account owner in the case of police apprehending a carder?

The only possiblity that comes to mind is that the police empty the cardholder's account and then later return that money minus the device manufacturer's 7.7% cut?!

I guess if they bought prepaid card with stolen credit cards, then the police would empty those cards.

>Oh, so if I have a card in someone else's name, you'll charge it, thus causing someone who doesn't even know about it to lose?

From what I understand the technology is for seizing money from prepaid cards. For other cards it just looks up information about the account. Thats how it helps with identity theft.

From the article:

> Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.

The article is wrong.

ERAD card scanners were first developed around 2012 for the science and technology arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to combat the use of prepaid debit cards by drug cartels to transport drug money, according to a Homeland Security media release.

Since then, some law enforcement agencies around the country have adopted the technology.

According to ERAD Group’s patent for the device, law enforcement can determine the balance of money in an account associated with a prepaid card that is part of branded “open loop” networks such as Visa or MasterCard or “closed loop” cards that only allow purchases at a single company, such as gift cards.

When the card is scanned by the officer to check the account balance, the system disguises the balance request as a typical vendor request to prevent alerting suspects that law enforcement is checking the card, the patent states.

Once the card’s account balance is determined, the officer can use the device to freeze the funds, preventing withdrawal or use of the money in the account, or seize the funds by having them transferred to a law enforcement financial account, the patent states.

Although the device does not allow funds from non-prepaid cards to be frozen or seized, it can provide the officer information about those cards such as the card number, the name on the card, expiration date and the card issuer.

> the system disguises the balance request as a typical vendor request to prevent alerting suspects that law enforcement is checking the card

Wouldn't that go against the credit card (or pre-paid card) merchant agreement? And wouldn't ERAD have to have signed such an agreement in order to access the credit card network?

From that contract that was linked elsewhere, the equipment being provided includes:

> One (1) VX680 GPRS Terminal w/battery, thermal printer

The VX680 is a mobile credit card terminal (http://www.verifone.com/media/413350/VX680_2_lg.jpg) made by Verifone, much like the type that restaurants use most places besides the USA. If I had to speculate, maybe they try putting varying charges/holds on the card and see when it gets rejected in order to divine the balance?

I'm sure they have a special merchant agreement that allows for this. If the credit card networks refused to play ball they could be accused of hiding criminals.

They might have a deal with the merchants?

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