New Civil Asset Forfeiture Techniques


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Oklahoma Cops Find A New Way To Take People’s Money, Even If They Don’t Have Cash

A device that can access funds linked to prepaid debit cards is sparking new concerns about civil asset forfeiture.

06/08/2016 07:16 pm ET

Nick Wing Senior Viral Editor, The Huffington Post

Oklahoma police agencies are being equipped with devices that allow officers to scan prepaid debit cards and target funds linked to them for civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcers to permanently seize property they suspect is connected to criminal activity.

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has purchased Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machines for installation in Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Oklahoma City police cruisers, according to an Oklahoma Watch report published Tuesday. The device tells officers the balance of prepaid debit cards and gift cards, and allows them to seize the money if they determine it’s suspicious. ERAD readers also can provide limited information about pretty much any card with a magnetic strip, including bank debit cards and credit cards.

Oklahoma has become a battleground in the debate over civil asset forfeiture reform in recent years, prompted by high-profile cases of cops using the practice to take cash and property from innocent people — often without charging them with a crime. Thanks to the new ERAD readers, police can now access people’s electronic funds as well.

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