5 American Crime Stories from the 90s that should be dramatized

I don’t care if they’re in mini-series or movies but as I’ve become unexpectedly enthralled in this dopey “American Crime Stories” first season covering The People vs O.J. Simpson, it has made me hungry for more dramatizations of 1990s real life crime dramas. I choose the 90s not just because I lived through them and desire a similar “look at new angles” depiction of the stories I remember seeing in bits and pieces as a kid but also because of the historical significance of the time for such cases. The advent of more extensive nightly news segments, news talk shows, investigative news shows, talk radio, and cable news channels all popped in the 90s like never before and the stories that captured the attention of all these outlets, feeding on each other as those stories among all the other crazy crap going on in the world retained the tv box-office leaderboard status is a story in itself.

These are my top 5 picks I want to see done anywhere, anyhow, in a similar approach to the American Crime Story series, which stupidly is wasting their 2nd season on “Hurricane Katrina”… Maybe it will shock me and be not-garbage, but doing a season about American Crime Stories on bad weather (and presumably the alleged “criminal” malpractice of poor evacuation and aid by the inept local government) sounds like a massively squandered opportunity. These would have been infinitely better choices. I will include the Wikipedia entries for each case afterward but won’t be reading any of them beforehand and instead will be presenting my list from memory only, since that is what is fueling my desire to see them dramatized.

1- JonBenét Ramsey

What I remember about the story: A 6 year old beauty pageant contestant no one had ever heard of before is mentioned in a bizarre ransom letter and while the parents seemingly arrange to pay it, police are involved but find no evidence of a break-in or kidnapping. Then the girls body turns out to be in the friggin basement of the house, covered but not exactly hidden, and the physical trauma suggested horrors from sexual abuse to brutal beating in the poor child’s last hours. Speculation was on one of the parents but I forget which one while I got the impression that the other parent was oblivious. The crazy extent of the sexualizing of a 5 and 6 year old that took place in the doll dressing that went into these pageants (that evidently isn’t uncommon for such pageants) creeped everyone out, adding fuel to the weird details of the story. What I can’t decide if I’m weirded out by or if I glowingly approve of is the girls name… It sounds like perhaps its an homage to a French aunt or something but its her parents names: John Bennet Ramsey marries a woman named Patricia and they name their daughter = JonBenét Patricia Ramsey. lol.
What I want to see in a dramatization: What in the eff was going on with these parents? And who the hell did it? Does the evidence suggest it was one of them or was it really a random hit by a wandering psychopath that they were just oblivious to?

Wikipedia entry.

2- The Menendez Brothers

What I remember about the story: Adult brothers conspire to shotgun murder their parents, do it, and then have a lengthy trial for some reason. To my knowledge, the parents were wealthy, but not famous, so I didn’t and don’t know why this was such a big story that lasted so long in the news cycles. I remember allegations of abuse from the parents being used to unconvincing degrees on why they deserved to get surprise-murdered (it wasn’t even over a dispute or argument or any crime of passion from what I remember) in their living room. The boys tried to make it look like a home invasion or something and then went to go see a movie as an alibi. The movie they saw? The James Bond film License to Kill (because Batman was sold out).
What I want to see in a dramatization: Why did they hate their parents so much? Even if it was a money grab, I remember the reporting of the murders sounding very personal and not the kind of “just doing business mumzy and dadzy. nothing personal” coldness you might expect.
Wikipedia entry

3- Amy Fisher & Joey Buttafuoco

What I remember about the story: Dubbed “the Long Island Lolita” after the book and films about a 12 year old nymphomaniac who successfully seduces a 40something year old man, Amy Fisher had an affair with a central-casting style Long Island Italian male stereotype named Joey Buttafuoco when when she was 17. She became obsessive and attempted to murder his wife by ringing the doorbell in broad daylight and just shooting her right in the face when she answered, giving rise to the knock-knock joke we told at the time whose punchline to the “who’s there?” question was “AMY FISHER – BOOM” as you finger-gun the joke recipient in the face. Mary Joe Buttafuoco survived, now with limited facial mobility, and stayed with Joey for at least a decade afterward before coming to her senses in a series of crazy details that kept cycling. 

What I want to see in a dramatization: The sleeziness from Fisher and Joey under the nose of the oblivious Mary Jo. Evidently Fisher was fame-whoring for awhile and that contributed to the reasoning for the attempted murder in such a way. She pursued getting her name in the headlines at the time and when she got out of jail, doing tv specials and a few porn films afterward. Seeing the start of this lost soul going all wrong mentally and using her sexuality to “make it” would be fascinating to see unfold.

Wikipedia entry for AmyFor Joey.

4- Michael Jackson’s Molestation Allegations

What I remember about the story: In the early 90s Michael Jackson was at the peak of his sensation levels as a rockstar personality and everyone loved his weirdness in a David Bowie style way where his androgyny was considered cool. Then in 1993 he was accused of diddling a kid and that androgyny turned into “proof that he’s a fag” and the tide of public opinion turned from a weird mixture of everyone still liking him as a performer and weirdo tv figure but now no longer respecting his eccentricities the way they used to.
What I want to see in a dramatization: Michaels story. Which is that he was railroaded and witch-hunted for being bizarre and effeminate but was innocent of the crimes he was accused of. I maintain that the truth is that Jackson suffered from arrested development and saw himself as a child, which led to potentially inappropriate conduct an adult might have with children – but not molestation, not sexual abuse, and not the predatory arrangements accused. I wanna see the fake “see how adult and heterosexual he is??” publicity stunt marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, his interactions with Macaulay Culkin (who always denied any harm or inappropriate activity to him or in his presence) and the media circus around the whole ordeal (which is the secondary character in all these stories).

Wikipedia entry

5- Tanya Harding & Nancy Karigan

What I remember about the story: I’m afraid to search this story and find out that details I had grown up with where somehow not true. This is my original “too good to check” news item that just seemed so crazy that it not only actually happened in real life but in such a public way. As far as I know: Figure skater Tanya Harding and her boyfriend or husband or something, hired some dude to break the leg of her main competitor Nancy Kerrigan and it actually went down. Meaning, some guy stalked a figure skater and hit her in the leg intending to break it so she couldn’t compete. He failed and only bruised her thigh or something but Kerrigan didn’t go on to the Olympic heights she was on track to anyway because of it and Harding finished in poor placing anyway.
What I want to see in a dramatization: The white trash conspiracies involved in this hit, the execution of it, the aftermath and the cultural spike in figure skating interest that ensued is all ripe for interesting characters and situations to be acted out.

Wikipedia entry

Watch the Real Videos reenacted on The People vs OJ Simpson

On account of me being an American, I am following my patriotic duty to closely follow the FX series American Crime Story and its maiden voyage: The People vs O.J. Simpson. The drama and pacing as a piece of media is surprisingly not bad at all (I originally tuned in to see a shitshow of bad soap-opera ridiculousness but was shocked to actually enjoy it) but my real interest is in seeing how real-life events from the not-too-distant-past are being re-created. Aside from David Schwimmer taking me out of all suspension of disbelief, I have enjoyed the casting and comparing each actors portrayal to their real life counterpart. Cuba Gooding Jr actually captures OJ’s mannerisms and expressions pretty well a lot of the time but unfortunately his much smaller stature than the football player constantly brings it down.

If you too are doing your duty as a patriot, or interested foreign-national, you may find these news clips that were re-enacted on the show of interest.
I will do my duty to the nation like the unflappable hero that I am and update this post accordingly as new episodes come out and new clips are found.

Here’s what I’ve gotz so farz:

1- “He’s back again”…the 911 call
Nicole Brown calls for help as an enraged OJ Simpson is heard screaming threats in the background. Takeaway quote: (When the operator asks her to stay on the line) “I don’t wanna stay on the line, he’s gonna beat the shit out of me”…

2- The Awkward Attorney Press Conference
Here is John Travolta (played in real-life by Robert Shapiro) and Ross-from-Friends (played in real-life by Robert Kardashian) on the afternoon of Friday, 17 June 1994 giving a press conference in response to O.J. Simpson vanishing from his house and failing to show up at Parker Center to be charged with murder. Shapiro explains to the press and Robert Kardashian reads a letter O.J. wrote that day before disappearing, commonly interpreted as a suicide note.

3- Bronco Chase
A little under 2 minutes into the clip you hear A.C. (driving the Bronco) on the phone with police delivering the “you know who I am goddammit!” line along with other details shown in the show about the chase:

[Episode 4]:

4- O.J. pleads “Absolutely 100% Not Guilty”.

But not the way the show showed it… Unlike the show depicted: it wasn’t Judge Ito presiding, O.J. had to be tapped to stand after he is addressed by name (he didn’t just pop up with his attorneys following), and he delivers his plea in a defensive manner instead of the smug way Cuba Gooding Jr says it in the show…

5- Bailey vs Shapiro…
Attorney F. Lee Bailey on Larry King, passive-aggressively smack talking Robert Shapiro: This may not exist but I’m still looking… Instead I found this:
Not depicted in the series (yet?), Robert Shapiro in a Larry King interview responding to a recording from F. Lee Bailey 11 minutes and talks about the rift between them as well as denies that he made the suggestion for a man-slaughter plea depicted in Episode 4:

6- Faye Resnick Tell-All Book Interview

Nicole Browns friend Faye Resnick talks about her tell-all book with Larry King, covering Faye’s cocaine rehab 3 days before the murder and other tidbits mentioned in the mini-series…

In real life, Faye was on a tv and Larry’s set was not the iconic map pointillism that is more recognizable to his shows history but the show changed the set and made the backdrop the more familiar one. & Larry King plays his 1995 self in the show.

For lots more bits, this 20/20 episode covers all the main beats excellently:

The Zimmerman Witchhunt was a historical event in manufactured outrage

A Florida man has been charged with attempted murder and hate crime after fatally shooting an African American man in the head. He expressed disbelief over his arrest, telling officers that he “only shot a nigger.” That mans name is Walton Henry Butler and if the allegations are true, he obviously deserves a lot of scorn from the public in addition to his hopefully lifetime jail sentence.

Instead of being targeted by activists however, race-baiters are collectively going after a made-up charge of racism in a different Florida shooting in where a hispanic man shot a single bullet, allegedly in self defense from having been attacked and suffering a brutal beating by a teenager. Despite no evidence of racism being involved in the shot that resulted in the alleged attackers death, he is being lionized as a martyr and the shooter is being demonized as a racist.

The prosecution is going big with the “taking the law into his own hands” angle.

Judge Debra Nelson issued her ruling over the objections of Zimmerman’s lawyers shortly before a prosecutor delivered a closing argument in which he portrayed the defendant as an aspiring police officer who assumed Martin was up to no good and took the law into his own hands. “A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the jurors. “He is dead because a man made assumptions. … Unfortunately because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks this Earth.”

There is literally zero evidence that Trayvon Martin is dead because of “assumptions” that were made because, while there is zero evidence that Zimmermans single shot was based on suspicion or taking the law into his own hands but rather was a legitimate use of self defense against an attacker who evidently assumed it would be a good idea to violently assault someone who had a legal firearm on them.

George Zimmerman called the police to express concern about a “punk” he saw suspiciously roaming the eves of other peoples houses and attempted to talk to the individual. Trayvon Martin called a girl friend and mentioned annoyance about a “creepy ass cracker” he saw watching him. Juan Williams:

George Zimmerman faces life in jail as a jury considers second-degree murder charges against him for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But thanks to the media he is already sentenced to life in the American public’s mind as a racist. NBC edited a tape of Zimmerman’s call to police as he was following Martin to make him appear to be focused on Martin’s race. The New York Times has referred to him in unique racial terms as a “white Hispanic.” The terminology was necessary to have the story fit into a well-worn news narrative throughout American history from the Scottsboro Boys to Emmett Till to Rodney King – the black victim of white racism. Hispanic people can be as racist as black or white people in a country with a deep history of racism. But, apparently for the Times, Zimmerman’s whiteness was important. It fit their good versus evil tale of a white racist killing an innocent black man.

This is a stunning case of media malpractice in fomenting hatred in service to an immoral and divisive agenda. There is absolutely nothing special about this unfortunate case that merits such media attention and making up details in order to fluff it up to justify the undue attention is some crazy propaganda-conspiracy shit unfitting of this Great Republic.
As I saw someone post on Facebook:
My prediction: George Zimmerman will walk on all charges, and appear in the next season of Dancing With the Stars alongside America’s favorite diabetic, Paula Deen. Then maybe (video courtesy of the Washington Free Beacon)

Clerk punches armed robber in the face, makes him clean up his own blood

“If he wants money. Get a job. Work, like everybody else in this world.”

Checkout the placement of this guys nose, post-punch… It’s like someone moved it in Photoshop. or in this case: photo-BOP. cuz like… he got bopped in the nose… n stuff. Go Team GoodGuy!

Peculiar Pot Smoking Punk ass Protestors Pepper Sprayed Prudently

This Occupy protesting nonsense is dragging on and accomplishing nothing positive. Shocking… The wests Tahrir moment, it aint. Some are under the false impression that rich people are somehow getting richer in this bad economy despite the number of taxpayers with more than $1 million of income declining from from 400,000 back in 2007 to just 235,000 in 2009. Others are just annoyed that the world isn’t perfect in their estimation so they’re out bitching about anything and everything and feeling super noble about it. Sometimes though, the whole “breaking the law and being a dick about your protests over nothing” thing has consequences and that only makes irresponsible people more outraged that they’re not getting what they want. Tragic.

The only positive thing that’s come out of the Occupy protests has been the silly Amazon product reviews of the pepper spray used in the Davis-spraying. Aside from that it’s just more cause for whining and outrage. Did you know that forcing people to move who refuse to move from property they don’t own is a “military threat”? Oh ya dude. Totally:

“How Could This Happen in America?” Why Police Are Treating Americans Like Military Threats
Why is the armed might of the state, (necessary in waging war against foreign enemies) being applied to domestic policing of local communities and peaceful protests?

Who is gullible enough to fall for this victim-porn propaganda? These protests are often not peaceful – what with the attacking the police, vandalism, vandalism with feces, vandalism with 200 pounds of feces, other mass filth, corpse-filth, diseaseopen drug useoverdoses, rapes and death and all – but even during the peaceful ones, it’s painfully obvious that the whining reaction to them are just whining. Oh no.. you broke laws and got arrested or forcibly moved from a place you weren’t allowed to be. and I’m supposed to feel sympathy for that just because you wanted to be there? This is stupid. That article ends with this paragraph:

“Is this still my country?” That’s been a question from day one, asked by Americans of widely diverging views in response to government crackdowns on protest. Objecting to military violence against protesting citizens may be inherently American. The urge to crack down can look inherently American too.

Don’t people usually die in “military violence”? And yet no one has died in the law enforcement tactics used against these fleabaggers while 7 have died within the Occupy dumps. Lets see.. which is worse? Getting sprayed with something that hurts your eyes in response to your refusal to leave a blockade that has no purpose or meaning? Or dying for participating in a protest that has no purpose or meaning?

Updatewoman pepper sprays black friday shoppers so she can get her Tickle-me Elmo or whatever.


I double-dog Dare you to think of something more stupid than this caption^

Police haven’t been shitting on any of the protestors. But the protestors have been shitting on the police.
Police haven’t killed any of the protestors. But the protestors have been killing themselves.
Police haven’t been breaking any of the protestors things to express their political opinions. But the protestors have been costing thousands of dollars in damage to public and private property.
Police haven’t stabbed any of the protestors. But the protestors have been knife attacking themselves.
Police haven’t jerked off in front of any 16 year old girls in the protests but… okay – i’ll give them a pass on this one.

UPDATE: Occupy sympathizer threatens to murder South Carolinas Governor. To date, police have not made any such murder threats in their “military action”.

I don’t understand what the argument against it is. When you tell someone to move and you have the legal authority to do so, wtf are you supposed to do? “Hey, those people are not legally allowed to be occupying that space. it’s not theres, we don’t want them there and they need to leave” – “but… they said no” – “Oh, okay. end of story then. I guess we tried!”. wtf? I don’t think so. They’re lucky all they got was a shot of pepper. Morons.

Although, I’ve also never made a secret of the fact that I don’t understand the Occupy protest as a movement either, and it’s not for lack of investigation. It’s an unorganized collection of whining about nothing specific and has no plan of action other than being annoying as a way to get what they want.

When it first started the most common line I saw was that it was against “Corporate Greed” but no specifics were given on what anyone wanted to do about it. Who exactly is breaking the law or doing something immoral? If the former – why are you not revealing their name to any of the thousands of trial attorneys whose mouths are watering this very second at the thought of taking a Wall Street corrupto-crat down and if it’s the latter then why are you not revealing their names either so people know what it is you’re protesting against and can maybe have some sympathy for your smelly disease riddled public park destroying illegal bongo sessions.

Following a pledge to “stick it to taxpayers“, the cost of this feel-good/accomplish-nothing masturbatory movement to the taxpayers is $10,000 a day or $13 million so far.

Thanks a lot, assholes.

UPDATE: this was posted before the following video surfaced that – SURPRISE – tells you more of what you should have already realized if you weren’t a hippie anti-authority romanticizing fruitcake:

Crime, Drugs & Responsibility

Here is a relevant selection from a discussion I had with a friend recently on drugs, crime, personal responsibility and societal responsibility. Lemme know what ch’yall think!


BRETT:
Drugs are the reason most are behind bars. Addiction isn’t weakness. They are either in there for possession of drugs, things they did on drugs, or things they did to get drugs. The fact someone is bound to chemicals doesn’t make them worthless, but our “correctional” institutes don’t correct anything so you end up with people that never get to the root of their problems, and they are bound by a cycle of addiction. If our country aimed at breaking addictions and treating the mentally ill, there would be far less people behind bars. I don’t think either chemical imbalances nor chemical addiction runs hand and hand with stupidity, hence the reason there are intelligent and capable people behind bars. And yes, some who could have been a political leader end up doing little more than hustling people either on the street or behind bars…wasted capabilities that could have been used constructively if the dice had fallen different along the way.

RICHARD:
Drugs are absolutely not the reason most are behind bars and the actions one takes to get themselves addicted to something is absolutely a weakness. it is entirely possible to use recreational drugs and not steal, assault, murder or jaywalk so the excusal of prisoners as being victims of their own behavior (itself a silly circular reasoning) is nonsense. idk why you equate being in jail with being worthless. if that was the case then we’d have a singapore or chinese system of justice instead of the cushy one we have now. the root of these peoples problems is not chemical – its moral. you can be an absolute fiend and it doesnt require you to harm your fellow citizens. there is no dice in this equation. it is peoples choices who put them where they are. not cosmic roulette.

BRETT:
an “absolute fiend” WILL steal, unless you are talking about Wall Street boys with 7 figure incomes powdering their noses. most poor people that become addicted to alcohol, crack, or heroin do not have 7 figure incomes and once they are fully addicted they have no recourse but to steal. i had a friend with decent morals (seems to be what you are stressing that non-criminals posses) who got addicted to oxycontins and proceeded to steal a bunch of appliances to sell on Cragslist. He’s in prison for 11 years now, but not a stupid kid at all . At one point he was making $80,000 a year fixing tanks in Iraq, but then he got hooked on drugs…first recreational treats like acid, and then later, the poor man’s heroin. it does take someone with an addictive personality to get so dependent upon drugs, but that is a genetic lottery, even if you don’t believe it is. Even at the furthest reach, we don’t pick our parents, so we’re all basically products of chance. Criminals are not inherently evil people. Often their lives just took a wrong turn and went off the road before they ever had a chance to turn back.

RICHARD:
People are not driven to steal and assault to feed addictions. entitled people, stupid people and moraless people do. crime is going down despite the economy going down. alcoholics didnt go on mugging and stealing sprees for speakeasy money during prohibition. it is entirely the prevailing moral compass of the person and no excuses should be made for any violence or theft from a person as there is no scientific data that shows an addiction makes you a shitty person. Anne Franks mother died in Bergen-Belsen because she didnt eat anything, choosing instead to give her entire food rations to her daughter. I think the certain death that comes at the end of prolonged starvation will poison the mind into acting selfishly more than the need to chase a high.

Describing a person who steals for pills as being of high morals is incongruent. Oxycontin doesnt make you a werewolf. it makes you want something really bad. if you have a sense of entitlement, you’ll stomp on whomever you have to to collect your “get mine” tax. people in prison arent necessarily ape-like buffoons but wise people dont skip naively down a path of increasingly dangerous and addictive drugs, forming a habit which they steal over and lands them in prison – even if they were talented in their trade as a mechanic.

Genetics do not dictate behavior. Hitler was proved wrong on that. you can have a propensity to be angry, violent, addicted to something, rapey – whatever. but just like average humans have evolutionarily wired responses of rage, selfishness, etc and yet find a way to function in polite society – people with a tick towards another vice area can do the same just as easily.

Hundreds of thousands of criminals are inherently evil people. Others are low intellect fools and then that fraction of a percentage I mentioned before are the supervillian geniuses and the “just got unlucky” rubes. Peoples lives are not predetermined nor sentient so if they take a wrong turn, it is because of the person, not their genes or circumstance. that is – for all except that fraction of a percent that are held hostage in Repunzal towers or otherwise literally and physically prevented from taking action with their own life. If that weren’t true then there would be no explanation for people who will themselves through death, destruction, poverty, violence, abuse, negligence or anything else since if you dont control your own life, such things would necessarily dictate mathematically absolutist numbers of those lives flatlining and never improving.

BRETT:
The kinds of things that lead people to use hard drugs usually stem from a shitty set of initial circumstances – shitty or missing parents, crime-ridden communities, economic oppression being the stem. These people are more prone to use drugs and are not wealthy enough, nor do they have the resources to provide a legitimate income, from which they can blow it all on the drugs. I don’t know of many junkies that work 9 to 5 jobs (not that I know any junkies at all, for that matter), but I would guess this working class addict you speak of is quite the exception to the rule. There are of course alcohol addicts everywhere that don’t cheat and steal to get their drink, but the people that drink alcohol are not always the same ones that get addicted to prescription drugs or hard street drugs.

Making wrong choices is usually the hallmark of what becomes a criminal life. I know it sounds nearly Christian to say, but by keeping away from bad associations people can avoid a lot of trouble, and the problem is that like attracts like, so addicts get to know addicts, and successful people their like. It breeds a cycle, as I referred to earlier, because they keep kicking out god damn children who turn out just like them (our friend Matt DiColla, the super piece of shit that said he wanted to rape megan, has 4 kids. Low class people outbreed the wealthy and fill the prisons). You can’t tell me that a kid raised by a crackhead mother who was selling drugs and using them by age 12 has the same chance — even with an identical twin — speaking theoretically — as succeeding in a middle class “moral” (seems to be your main thrust on most things) family. Morals are inculcated into children…we agree on that. The fact that some get it and some don’t pretty much is, not a genetic lottery, but a circumstance lottery, which was what I was trying to imply earlier, but I see where I left room for some ambiguity.

“Family Lottery,” Separate twins and put them in opposite cirumstances, but only for entertainment value — new reality show.

RICHARD:
It’s not a shock or being contested that people in shitty situations make shitty choices, but that is because human nature is selfish. You’re saying we’re bound to that nature in a predetermined genetic code and i’m saying thats bunk cuz everyone aside from a very small group with psychiatric problems is perfectly able to not just do what is easiest and they do it all the time. a crackhead raised kid and a middle class raised kid have the same opportunities if they’re raised the same way with the same moral code and access to information, im saying. the shitty drug addicted mother raises a baby that continues the cycle only because of the way its raised, not because she’s passing on selfish genes. if that were true then the president would be smoking crack and have 14 illegitimate kids somewhere like his dad right now. his dad was shit. his mom was shit, but luckily she dumped him off on his upper class grandmother in hawaii who was able to raise him and thus the genes of 2 selfish drug addicted irresponsible parents produced a united states senator and president.
I would definitely tune into Family Lottery! lets pitch it to a studio!

Definitely dont disagree (idk how anyone could) that shitty surroundings will handicap a person into keeping the shitchain goin strong. The loss of community is a big deal, but the loss of personal responsibility is also a big deal. Crime went DOWN during the Great Depression in many cities and there was cultural attitude of “be thankful for what youve got and be happy”. now these same cities blame everyone else and their dog for their problems and rebel against society instead of work to make it better, as you put it.

Electronic Pickpocketing

Coolest new mode of theft in awhile:

Credit card issuers, along with the U.S. State Department, have begun installing radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in credit cards and passports because the technology holds more data than magnetic stripes and can be read quicker.

But, that convenience, experts warn, can also put people at risk of having their information taken.

“I wouldn’t walk around in public with my cards exposed like that,” said Walt Augustinowicz, founder of ID Stronghold. “It’s too easy to do.”

RFID chips are commonly found in cards used to raise gates in parking garages and unlock doors at businesses. All one has to do is simply swipe the card in front of a reader.

Within the last few years, that same technology has been introduced to credit cards and U.S. passports, potentially putting holders at risk of being ripped off.

It doesn’t matter if the cards are kept in a wallet or a purse since they can transmit through them when prompted by a RFID reader, which are for sale on eBay.

Augustinowicz said it amounts to electronic pickpocketing.

“[At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport], where you’ve got lots of crowds and a lot of people moving back and forth, no one is going to think anything of you walking by them with a briefcase with a higher-powered reader in it,” he said.

Using free software, he showed what hackers when using a RFID reader on a credit card. The account number and expiration date pop up on the computer screen almost instantaneously after the reader gets within a few inches of the card.

The only credit cards that are vulnerable are those that allow users to tap or pass a reader to pay rather than swiping. Some might also have a symbol on them that indicate they transmit.