back to article Oooooklahoma! Where the cops can stop and empty your bank cards – on just a hunch

Police in Oklahoma are deploying an electronic scanner that can drain currency from prepaid credit cards seized at the roadside using civil asset forfeiture laws. The Electronic Recovery and Access to Data (ERAD) handheld scanner was developed at the request of the Department of Homeland Security for use by US border guards. …


  1. Unclezip

    Highway banditry at it's finest. *marks Oklahoma off vacation list*

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Doesn't help. It happens everywhere: The Forfeiture Racket: Police and prosecutors won't give up their license to steal.. This is an article from 2010.

      The 1984 law lowered the bar for civil forfeiture. To seize property, the government had only to show probable cause to believe that it was connected to drug activity, or the same standard cops use to obtain search warrants. The state was allowed to use hearsay evidence—meaning a federal agent could testify that a drug informant told him a car or home was used in a drug transaction—but property owners were barred from using hearsay, and couldn’t even cross-examine some of the government’s witnesses. Informants, while being protected from scrutiny, were incentivized monetarily: According to the law, snitches could receive as much as one-quarter of the bounty, up to $50,000 per case.

      Yeah, what could go wrong here?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The USA has long been off my potential holiday list. Trump does nothing to assuage that visceral feeling that too often the lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Trump is not even in charge....

        1. Shady

          ...yet (megaphone not needed)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Even a lot of GOP members

          are thinking of voting for Hillary simply to keep the loony tunes Trump out of the Whitehouse.

          He has been compared to Dr Strangelove...


          Thankfully my USA trip will be over before his coronation at the GOP Convention.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Don't get too excited

            There are also a lot of Bernie supporters who are thinking about voting for Trump because they can't stomach voting for Hillary, the consummate Washington insider.

            This year's election is going to be really weird. Don't blame me, I'm voting for Gary Johnson.

            1. ShadowDragon8685

              Re: Don't get too excited

              As much as it causes me physical pain to say it, in America, if you abstain from voting, or vote for any third-party candidate, you are part of the problem. You're effectively casting half a vote for Trump if you do that.

              1. Swarthy

                Re: Don't get too excited

                As much as it causes me physical pain to say it, in America, if you abstain from voting, or vote for any third-party candidate, you are part of the problem. You're effectively casting half a vote for Trump if you do that.
                I HATE it when people say that. "If you don't vote for a lizard, the wrong lizard might get in." (Credit to D. Adams)

                If enough people realize that there is another option, it's not "throwing your vote away"; but with all of the fatalists (and people who profit from the status quo) churning that crap out the impressionable folks believe it. So the 3rd party never gets a shot. I didn't waste my vote - you convinced enough people to waste theirs.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "Wasted" votes on third party candidates

                So I guess you support the continuation of the broken two party system forever? Even when both candidates have negatives ABOVE 50%? If everyone who hated Hillary but isn't enthused about Trump, and everyone scared of Trump but isn't enthused about Hillary voted third party you'd probably see less than 50% of the vote total going to the two of them combined.

                I see three possible outcomes:

                1) Either Hillary or Trump win by reaching 270 electoral votes

                2) A third party candidate wins (most likely Gary Johnson as he's already polling in double digits and if he makes the debates he'll be seen nationwide as a credible alternative to Lizard One and Lizard Two) I admit this is unlikely, but if you want to dismiss it out of hand why do we even preserve the fantasy of allowing third parties? We should only allow democrats and republicans to field candidates and ban third parties and independents from running.

                3) A third party candidate wins enough states that neither Hillary or Trump reach 270 electoral votes. This leaves the election decided by the House of Representatives. I think odds are good they would abandon Trump and elect Paul Ryan. You might not like that outcome, and the public would scream about having the election decision taken away from them, but nothing would help reform our system faster than something like that happening.

                1. ShadowDragon8685

                  Re: "Wasted" votes on third party candidates

                  DougS, it's an unfortunate fact of reality in this country that a great deal of voters are Party Voters.

                  There are Republicans who would vote Republican if Martin Shkreli was on the ticket with, I dunno, Kim Kardashian as running mate.

                  And there are Democrats who would vote Democrat if the ticket were Guy Fieri/John Oliver.

                  When you account for these voters who vote strictly on the party lines, between Republithugs and Dipshitcrats that's a majority of the voters already accounted for. Why do they do this? Because "This party best represents my interests" is simple and easy to understand.

                  So, getting a majority vote without it being [R] or [D] is already basically impossible. That's why I was fervently hoping that Trump would lose the nomination, throw a hissy, run as a third-party, and split the Republican voting base, thereby basically rolling the red carpet out for the Democrats. Not because I LIKE the Democrats, mind you, there's so much they do - or rather, so much they DON'T do - that pisses me off - but because they're not as bad as the alternative.

                  And in this case, the alternative is LITERALLY following Adolf Hitler's roadmap to power. So, let's see your options.

                  1: And if everybody who says "I hate Trump, but I don't like Hillary enough to vote for her" votes third-party or abstains, they're effectively casting half a vote for Trump, because their vote is NOT going into Hillary's pile. Let me be clear: don't get this twisted. I don't want Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. I think she's a fucking sell-out who sold the American people out to Big Insurance 22 years ago and has as much business in the oval office as a four-foot-tall wooden dildo.

                  But Donald fucking Trump is such a terrifying trainwreck disaster - the man has literally advocated WAR CRIMES on national television - that frankly at this point, anything short of violence would be justified to keep him out of the oval office. Voting for a candidate you don't LIKE is a small price to pay to keep a maniac out.

                  2: That could, in theory, happen. It would require every single undecided vote - including those who normally vote along party lines but will break ranks over one or two issues, or who will break ranks only in local elections - to unanimously back the third party. Who's it gonna be, huh? Gary Johnson?

                  I would rather jam my wedding tackle into a lion's mouth and whip his jacksie with a towel-whip than vote for a libertardian like Gary Johnson. Granted, I'd rather stick my wedding tackle into a V8-powered blender with Jeremy Clarkson on the accelerator than vote for Donald Trump, so I'd do it if it were literally the only other option, but it is not. As usual, the Libertardian party will gather a paltry sum of votes and fail entirely to have any meaningful effect in our ridiculous system.

                  3: In theory, this is possible, and has the potential to be a good outcome in the long run. But in the short run, it would start a REVOLUTION. Pissed-off Trumptards angry that they got cheated, pissed-off Democrats angry that they got cheated AND pissed-off third-party voters, would all have something to unite about they got all got shafted and the President was not elected by the people, from any of the options the actual people voted for.

                  Frankly, this country's democratic processes are broken. They could damn well be better, yes. But the only things that are going to cause any improvement will entail bloodshed, and I do not wish to see that happen. Would I prefer a system where you could vote for someone other than one of the big two and have a meaningful chance that your interests will be represented in government, abso-fucking-loutely I would. Hell, before this Brexit clusterfuck, I was actually suggesting, only in half-jest, ringing up 10 Downing Street and asking if we could kindly have a take-backsies on that whole "American Revolution" thing and join the UK.

                  Unfortunately, the system is broken, and there's no way to fix it that won't be blocked by those in power. Neither party would actually agree to any constitutional amendments that would weaken the two-party system, because in the long run it is in their cynical best interests to maintain the system; even if their party's power wanes, it will wax again sooner or later, whilstletting the Libtertards, Greenies, Constitutional fucktards, and all the etcs have their seat at the table would whittle both of them down to the point they might actually have to compromise with others to get things done. You know, like civilized human beings, and they can't have that.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Don't get too excited

              "Don't blame me, I'm voting for Gary Johnson."

              At least you get a vote. The rest of us don't but we still get the fall-out.

              1. Christoph

                Re: Don't get too excited

                "The rest of us don't but we still get the fall-out."

                No annihilation without representation

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        The USA has long been off my potential holiday list.

        Hell, almost all of the USA is off my travel list and I live here. Between TSA, police thuggery, and general idiocy by the populace, I just stay close (within a couple hundred miles) to home.

    3. Christoph

      The new police motto

      To Protect And Serve Stand and Deliver

  2. EveryTime

    Wait, it's possible to get a 7.7% commision on shakedowns?

    A company has figured out how to get a cut of a contra-constitutional practice? 7.7% for providing a card reader? (The $5K fixed payment is just a smoke screen around where the real money is.)

    This is innovative. You couldn't horn in on the action when cash or drugs are seized. But technology provides an excuse for getting a cut. No doubt with Redflex-style kickbacks.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Wait, it's possible to get a 7.7% commision on shakedowns?

      Just you average Public-Private Partnership deal, happens all the time. Isn't democracy great?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The article's title's play on words has started an ear worm. Probably won't affect many people under 60.

  4. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Down

    This practice...

    needs to end. period.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and the reason to visit Ok is? I can't seem to find one?

    This and their treatment of the LGBT community esp the bathroom laws make it hard to actually want to visit the place.

    Shame really as it is one of the last two states I have to visit.

    Well, I'm glad that my cards are all NFC ones and are carried in a shielding wallet. Yes I have my tinfoil hat on and proud to wear it.

    Posting AC as I'm in the USA and as of thursday, I'll be in a state adjacent to Ok. Don't want to temp fate now do we eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and the reason to visit Ok is? I can't seem to find one?

      There's a really REALLY big pecan tree West of Canehill, OK. It's as big around as an ordinary house. I used to sit under it and jerk off.

  6. DanceMan

    Guilty until proved innocent

    Civil forfeiture has been happening here in Canada, but hasn't progressed to highway robbery yet.


    If it starts, expect it in Saskatchewan first.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Guilty until proved innocent

      Sadly, I agree with you, although Alberta will be right behind Sask.

    2. Chris 244

      Highway Robbery

      Literally already happened. In left-leaning Ontario. In 2009.

  7. Stevie Silver badge


    A national disgrace that should have been shut down years ago. Abused everywhere it is used.

    An absolute disgrace.

    And because it is used by State controlled police it will be almost impossible to eradicate even if the original laws are repealed. Some police officers are openly gleeful about the abuses they've put this law to. I saw one in print crowing that a traffic stop which resulted in no charge being filed netted his department enough to buy a top of the line automatic coffee making machine.

    An absolute disgrace.

  8. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Licence to steal is a good way to describe this

    "Licence to steal" is a good way to describe asset forfeiture laws as they currently stand in the US, not just this card skimmer. The theory behind this law, the police would hold onto profits related from a crime during trial, they'd have their day in court, if found not guilty the person gets their stuff back. Edit: The description in a few of the links people have linked to make it clear this law is full shadiness, that the police can seize money and hold onto it without filing any charges.

    In practice, that can be how it works if the police in an area are honest (in my local area, for instance, I haven't heard of any problems; the sheriffs are elected so if the police misbehaved they would be replaced). But it's a law that almost seems to be designed to be abused.

    Two major problems with this:

    1) The law says these are supposed to be proceeds from crimes (i.e. if some movie-style drug kingpin has been a kingpin for 5 years, and bought his fancy sports car and mansion within the last year or two, they were probably bought with drug kingpin money.) What happens in practice, in big cities the police routinely steal peoples cars, they'll find (or plant) $10 of something or other in there *OR JUST DECIDE YOU HAVE A "SUSPICIOUS" AMOUNT OF CASH! (This amount doesn't have to be like a briefcase of cash or something, I've heard of people getting the full harrassment over like $50.) Of course (per what you see in the article) the police will now take even a broken tail light as an excuse for this kind of thing.

    2) The obvious greed factor -- individuals and departments that would never break or bend the rules (i.e. taking bribes or what have you) view this as a legal method of bringing reveneue into the department, you can get your department money for funding nicer, newer equipment, and pull in sports cars and so on for them? The police in some cities here love to show off Corvettes and so on that they have seized, then they paint them up in police car coloration. Police here in the US will take assets, and then expect those who they just took all their money from to hire a lawyer to get it back. This includes cases where they raid the wrong house, even those people will not automatically get those assets back. Of course, they're supposed to hold onto assets until after trial, but it's happened before and will happen again where people have gone to trial, been found "not guilty", then find out the police already auctioned there stuff off for like 10 cents on the dollar (more money for the police coffers don't you know?)

    I wonder if anyone who has had their money skimmed by this thing has ever tried going to the card company and filing a dispute? After all, the police didn't take your money, this private company paid the police 92.3% (7.7% cut remember) of the money they saw on your card, and *the privacy company* drained the card. They probably have to follow the same card processing rules as everyone else.. it simply wouldn't occur to most people to file a dispute when it's the police skimming your card instead of some random scammer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licence to steal is a good way to describe this

      3) the "revenue sharing" between the various parties pretty much guarantees abuse as there are too many stakeholders corrupted in the process to give justice a chance.

      Honestly, how on earth can the US claim to be standing for justice, freedom and democracy with laws like this?

      On the plus side: I think Windows 10 is a crime. Go get them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licence to steal is a good way to describe this

      I wonder if anyone who has had their money skimmed by this thing has ever tried going to the card company and filing a dispute? After all, the police didn't take your money, this private company paid the police 92.3% (7.7% cut remember) of the money they saw on your card, and *the privacy company* drained the card.

      It certainly suggests aggressive culpability, but I can see another one coming here. Most people who use their cards sensibly keep away from the limit and pay off monthly. What is going to happen when the Keystone Cops empty your card? They're effectively taking out a loan on your behalf, and you'll be stuck with the debt, multiplied by the number of cards you had the misfortune of carrying.

      It's a good thing you can forget your PIN when you're that nervous and that NFC transactions are limited in size.

      Bonus question: can they also do that to US based assets owned by foreigners? If yes I'd worry about card details left with PayPal and Amazon. It may not have been done yet, but if there are no restrictions in law it's only a matter of time before that obvious next step is taken. After all, we're foreigners, so automatically suspect..

    3. MonkeyCee

      Re: Licence to steal is a good way to describe this

      While I'm glad your local cops are not taking the piss (or the phat loots) relying on the local electorate can be very tricky.

      Since it takes most people about 30 seconds to work out the various loopholes in this legislation, and LEOs share the advice around, it's not too surprising that there are ways of avoiding pretty much any and all oversight.

      First, you avoid stealing from locals (since they can elect someone else). Focus on out of state cars, since they are less likely to be able to come back and fight you in court.

      Second, screw up (or simply don't file) as much paperwork as possible. Never record what your suspicions where, just that you had them.

      Third, ensure you know the wide array of things you can seize on their own basis. Cash can be used for illegal purposes, so seize all of that. Avoid taking guns, since that'll get much more political heat, and god forbid you violate the 2nd amendment. The 4th can go fuck itself.

    4. Justin Clift

      Re: Licence to steal is a good way to describe this

      It'll be interesting if/when a security researcher gets access to one of these card draining things, and reverse engineers it looking for weaknesses.

      If it turns out to have weak security (fairly likely), be exploitable (I'd give it better than 50% likely :>) or rely on backdoors in some payment processing spec (doesn't sound like it), then we'll probably see non-police bad actors using these to extract funds from people in the next few years too. :/

      Sounds like a bad can of worms to have opened up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licence to steal is a good way to describe this

        then we'll probably see non-police bad actors using these to extract funds from people in the next few years too

        Why wait? Guns are easy to get, and it's not that hard to get hold of uniforms as well. Target out-of-state people (handy that the license plates tell you this) and you can hit quite a few people pretending to be cops. There is fundamentally no difference between a pretend cop taking money or a real cop taking money by abusing a loophole - both is theft under duress.

        Do this for a few days, then move state and repeat (otherwise it's a bit like stealing from the mafia - the local cops won't like the competition).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the use case for paying with a phone has finally arrived

    Don't carry cards, import them into your phone instead....then keep your phone locked, and the cops can't steal your money. This is probably the real reason why the FBI wants Apple to give them a backdoor, so they can keep stealing money from people who "look suspicious".

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: So the use case for paying with a phone has finally arrived

      Then be incarcerated until you give up your password/codes for your phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So the use case for paying with a phone has finally arrived

        Re: So the use case for paying with a phone has finally arrived

        Then be incarcerated until you give up your password/codes for your phone.

        Why? Android has always been an open door (ever heard the FBI asking Google for access?), and any older iPhone is not that hard either (iPhone 6 and 6s with the latest iOS are a lot harder).

        That being said, they may just keep you a while anyway for giggles. After all, how are you going to sue them as a foreigner? If you were important they would have already heard from your highly paid lawyer, so the fact that they haven't is an indication that they yet again got away with it - given government attitudes I doubt you'll be able to make it a diplomatic incident.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They can't jail you for not giving up your phone's password

        In the UK, sure, they can do that, but AFAIK they don't have the stupid asset forfeiture laws there so they can't steal money from your phone or your card.

  10. JimmyPage

    I guess this "constitution" thing isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    Seizing goods and property without due process ? That is soooooooo 13th Century.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    No, really, words fail me.

  12. Jon Wilson

    Help the Police!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    magic wand

    a must-have for every modern criminal.

    Disclaimer: this device and system behind it, have been developed to make it absolutely temper-proof and we can reassure the public there is no risk of the device falling into the wrong hands or the technology being reverse-engineered and copycat devices available on Not within the next couple of months. Stay safe, stay in credit! The State needs you!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: magic wand

      developed to make it absolutely temper-proof

      Interesting - so you can't get angry at it? Does this come in vest form too?


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not visiting the US: the list keeps growing..

    I may need to make a list somewhere of all the reasons why you don't want to go near the place.

    1 - TSA. 'nuf said.

    2 - Data shakedown at the border: they can take any device off you and do whatever they feel like with it, even keep it for a while. Which could even include INJECTING data for later entrapment. Did you piss off any important US company of late? Or did you invent something important that a US company doesn't really want to pay for?

    3 - The way foreigners are treated. Unless they have a "cute" accent like British, but God help you if you happen to be non-white. I'd be extra careful: don't get as much as a sun tan, a mistake is so easily made when there are no real consequences attached to it.

    4 - Lots of private gun ownership and next to no control on it. And quite a lot of "rampages" and "accidents". Oh, did I mention you're a foreigner? You can't have any to defend yourself either. Maybe someone should set up shop selling at least bulletproof vests. And armoured vehicles. Police killing people does generally not have consequences either.

    5 - Privacy? You're kidding, right?

    6 - Legalised theft by the people who are supposed to protect you. It'll be even easier to do this to you as a foreigner because you'll stand no chance in court, living abroad and all that. Ka-tching!

    Unbelievable. Truly unbelievable.

    1. Christoph

      Re: Not visiting the US: the list keeps growing..

      "Which could even include INJECTING data for later entrapment."

      Or installing spyware. Or some spying hardware. So even when you get back home it's still sending them everything you do,

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hackers and this system

    The device itself may be a target for hackers, on par with retail POS terminals. Don't forget about the rest. Infiltrate the vendor's payment processing (fund seizing) system, protect your ground from other potential infiltrators, and don't get greedy. Siphon off a few percent disguised as a political contribution or kickback and you could have a nice revenue stream.

    AC, just one of those topics that could come back to bite you.

  16. Sir Alien

    Just use a normal CC.

    Okay, not everyone has one but even if you keep you balance down the insurance that a normal credit card provides would be some much more appealing in such situations.

    If you only keep your CC on you during such travels and they took all the balance then if the report does not list the assets confiscated, you simply call up your CC provider and reverse the transaction as stolen funds.

    Cops take your money, you take it back.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just use a normal CC.

      It may not be that easy. Given that the cop theft side of things is legalised (I can't bring myself to call it "legal", it's just too wrong for words), you risk getting hit with a fraud charge on top.

      On the plus side, if there ever was an argument for limiting your debt ceiling, here it is.

      1. Sir Alien

        Re: Just use a normal CC.

        Ah but it not being on the police report as some have claimed would be putting the officer in charge of the confiscation in the fraud cross-hairs (sort of).

        My comment about reversing the charge was only if you attempted to claim back and it did not exist on the police report as an asset.

        - S.A

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Just use a normal CC.

      Not sure what protection you get on a pre-paid card - it's not "credit" being offered by the bank. Added to which, I'm sure the T&Cs have a long list of exclusions that you cannot object to, including legal acts of government representatives.

      By no means am I saying that this is anything but unethical/unconstitutional/immoral and downright fubar, but that's what the legal systems of democracies seem to be racing towards.

      I don't see any harm in asset forfeiture for criminal proceeds under certain circumstances - ideally this would be after guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt, though (subject to certain provisions to prevent disposal of these assets by folks of dubious moral values who know/think they're going to get found guilty, but equally subject to provisions allowing them to live their normal life in the process). Additionally, allowing the local forces to keep what they confiscate is a magnet for abuse. As the main use here is to seize assets related to drug crimes, why not funnel it to local drug rehab facilities?

  17. DropBear


    If the card can be charged simply by reading it, I'm a bit confused about why everybody else needs to remember and enter a PIN on any transaction...

  18. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    Can anyone suggest a good pre-filled payment card?

    I know there are cards you can pre-fill with a cash amount and supposedly use them like credit cards/cashpoint cards when buying things and services, but I don't know how widely they are accepted, especially in the USA. It seems to me that buying a cheap mobile and loading only the minimal amount of info on it, plus a locally-bought SIM card, plus a pre-filled card with only as much as you were willing to have confiscated, might protect you on visits to the USA.

    Any thoughts?


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