(BEDFORD) – Lawrence County Prosecutor Sam Arp asked the Lawrence County Commissioners Tuesday morning permission to purchase Electronic Recovery and Access Devices (ERADs).
The portable card scanners are designed to be carried in law enforcement vehicles, allow officers to track drug purchases made on gift cards and prepaid debit cards and freeze and seize that money.
“It is basically a tool to crack down on money laundering operations. Credit cards can be scanned to determine if they have been counterfeited. We have had a rash of cases with skimming devices that clone people’s cards. These cards are then used and accounts drained before the victims finding out,” says Arp.
Arp says drug traffickers are now putting their funds onto prepaid credit cards. Civil asset forfeiture is essential in disrupting drug trafficking operations, he added.
“It is much easier to hide a $100,000 on a credit card in your wallet as opposed to hiding that amount of money in your vehicle,” Arp added. “Officers who detect suspicious activity and make an arrest can scan these cards and freeze the funds until such a time that the funds can be forfeited.”
The card readers will not be used to randomly swipe motorists’ gift or prepaid cards, but only in cases in which officers suspect criminal activity is taking place. The device logs which officer is using the device when a card is swiped.
“If someone has 300 cards taped up and hidden inside the dash of a vehicle, we’re going to check those cards,” Arp added.
Arp says the devices are essentially part of the arms race between police and drug traffickers, who in recent years have been loading pre-paid cards with millions of dollars for transport as part of the drug trade, thus decreasing the likelihood of seizure by law enforcement.
The contract signed by Arp and ERAD Group will pay a fee of $1,500. ERAD will also receive a percentage of funds seized.