ERAD – New Age Technology for Civil Asset Forfeiture
by Shari Dovale
Civil asset forfeiture (CAF) is a bad deal for good citizens. It is a tool used by local, state and federal law enforcement to permanently seize a person’s cash, and property, without proof of a crime, or even a conviction, in most cases. All they have to do is say they thought you were profiting from illegal activities.
Ask Joseph Rivers, who lost $16,000 to the legal thugs in New Mexico.
Or you can ask Alda Gentile, who lost $11,530 she had in a car for a house-hunting trip in Florida.
Under this blatant violation of the US Constitution, no one need ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for the government to take away their cash, cars or property – and keep it.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has now come up with a new tool that allows the legal stealing of funds from your bank cards. Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine (ERAD) is a device that allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.
Picture this… You are stopped for a minor traffic violation. You are diligent in your personal security and do not carry large amounts of cash. However, the patrolman states (later) that you acted suspiciously. So, he asks to see your wallet and removes your bank cards.
He then swipes your cards through his handy-dandy portable ERAD machine and finds that you just deposited your annual bonus. BOOM! He can instantly seize those funds for no other reason than he doesn’t like the way you look.
The ERAD allows cops to swipe prepaid cards, check the balance, freeze the account and take all the money. The ostensible purpose is to go after “bad guys” with “dirty money,” as drug traffickers are turning to prepaid cards instead of bundles of cash when traveling.
However, this ERAD-enabled moral crusade by government will undoubtedly bring about more theft from innocent people.
Like Stephen Mills, chief of police at the Apache, Oklahoma police department, who was also a victim of CAF.
“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,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said about any money seized.
Civil asset forfeiture happens in every state in the union. Even if the state has laws that limit it, state and local law enforcement authorities can still seize property by partnering with federal law enforcement officials in a system called “equitable sharing,” and payouts to state and local agencies have increased nearly 250% over a 12-year period.
With the onset of ERAD, those figures are likely to increase exponentially. They have profit motivators built into the system. For example, the state of Oklahoma is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash the highway patrol seizes.
There are states that are attempting to reform the CAF laws, like Montana and new Mexico. However, with the Feds making a fortune under “equitable sharing” you can expect them to fight these reforms with all the righteous justice that they can muster.