Be Careful About This . . .

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If you like to buy used cars, you may also like to pay cash. It’s a great way to convince a seller you’re serious – and ready to deal. Unfortunately – these days – it can also lead to literally unimaginable trouble. Not from the seller. Not even from street thugs.

But from the thugs acting color of “the law” – who wear state-issued costumes and drive state-issued vehicles.

Let’s say you’re going to try to close a deal on a car you saw advertised. You e-mailed or spoke with the owner on the phone. The vehicle sounds like the ticket and the price he’s asking is in the ballpark as far as what you’d like to pay. So, you arrange to meet up – with the intention of buying the thing if it’s as-advertised, checks out mechanically and if you and the seller can agree on a fair price.

Prior to heading out, you stop by your bank to get the money for the deal out of your account. If the amount is $10,000 or more, the bank – now a de facto agent of the government – will (by law) report that to the government. It is deemed inherently “suspicious” merely to withdraw that sum of your own money from your own account. But that’s not the big danger. The big danger comes when you leave the bank and head out to check out the car you’re interested in buying.

Let’s say you get stopped along the way for a minor traffic offense. During the “your papers, please” rigmarole, the cop notices the envelope with the cash for your purchase sitting on the seat beside you. Uh-oh. That is more than merely suspicious. It is in fact legally sufficient provocation for the cop to seize your money. It is regarded as prima facie evidence of “drug activity.” No additional or corroborating evidence (such as actual drugs in the car) is required. Merely to be found in possession of more cash than the cops (and courts) arbitrarily decree to be in excess of what “common people … carry” is enough – in the words of Tennessee thug-in-costume (that is, “officer”) Larry Bates, who relieved NJ insurance adjuster George Reby of $22,000 (storyhere) merely because Reby was found to be carrying $22,000 in cash during a probable cause-free search of his vehicle in the wake of a traffic stop. According to Bates, Reby “could not prove (the money) was legitimate.”

So Bates simply took the money.

In other words, it’s up to us to prove that whatever cash we have is “legitimate” – else the state’s badged goons can just take it. This is called civil forfeiture by the organized gangs who justify their depredations under color of law.

You may never see your money again – and even if you do, be assured, it will take a great deal of your time and effort (and more of your money) to get it back. In Reby’s case, he had to travel all the way back to TN from NJ in order to plead with the state thugs to return his money – which they eventually (and clearly, begrudgingly) did.

And Reby’s ordeal is not a case of a thug cop acting beyond his authority. This sort of thing is now happening routinely – as deliberate policy - and the courts have amen’d it as ok.

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The Best of Eric Peters

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