E-reader creates controversy over asset seizures in OK, new technology allows electronic seizures

Posted at 9:36 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 08:52:05-04

TULSA- A new technological device being used by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is garnering controversy across the state.

It’s called an E-reader or ERAD, and it allows troopers to freeze funds on prepaid debit cards with one swipe.

"They are helping us find identity fraud, credit card fraud,” said OHP Chief Rick Adams.

Law enforcement across the country uses ERAD. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a promotional video on its website. 

“It would be able to create a record of the transaction it can read a card and it can freeze that value in literally under 10 seconds,” said Jack T. Williams, president of the ERAD group.

Oklahoma troopers started using it three weeks ago and some legal experts say it goes too far.

“In Oklahoma you can do it with suspicion, I say we need to raise up that up to requiring a higher standard than just suspicion,” said Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson.

Attorney Gary Richardson says Oklahoma rates among the worst in the nation for making legitimate seizures of cash and property suspected to be linked to criminal activity

“Then when I hear about what they’ve just put into practice it just concerns me,” he said.

Richardson points to cases like Burmese immigrant Eh Wah. Muskogee sheriff’s deputies wrongfully seized $58,000 from Wah during a traffic stop last year.

“I don’t think the police should be able to take innocent people money,” Wah said.

Troopers insist they only seize funds if they suspect they’re being used for illegal activity, while opponents say it’ s one more tool that has the potential to be abused.

OHP says it’s seized hundreds of cards linked to identity theft since implementing the technology last month.

Officers insist they aren’t going to seize people’s debit or credit cards from their wallets-- they are looking for obvious signs of criminal activity.



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