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Using technology to level the playing field with rogue authorities

We even find opportunities to minister while traveling.  While returning to Germany from Romania in March, we were able to be agents of accountability to some Hungarian police.  While we were on the highway near a town called Kiskunmajsa,  (try saying that one 3 times fast) a police car drove up next to us and, having seen our German plates, signaled me to pull over. 

When we stopped, he requested our passports and asked me why my lights were on.  I told him that this was common practice in Germany.  He walked around to the front of the car and asked me why they were on high beams.  I told him that they weren't, but I could show him what my high beams looked like if he would like.  Since his Romanian was better than his German and perhaps because he thought he'd get further with a timid Romanian woman (Aurelia, timid???!!) than an American man, he moved around to Aurelia's side of the car.  In front of Aurelia, I uncovered my mobile phone sitting between us, and pushed a couple of buttons.

The officer then told Aurelia in Romanian that he would not give us a $200 ticket if we gave him $20.  As she usually does, Aurelia asked him his name, which he gave her.  We asked him what we had done wrong and he said we were traveling with our lights off.  I pointed out the discrepancies in his changing story, but we knew that we couldn't fight corruption without more solid evidence of extortion.  So, Aurelia said she'd give him the $20.  He asked me if I agreed.  I gave him the money, and he said "Merci."

As he went off with his money, I hopped out of my side of the car with my cell phone and pressed a few more buttons.  I told him, "I registered our conversation and sent it by e-mail to my mailbox.  If you don't want your
bribe to be reported to the authorities, you'll give me our money back."

The guy was shocked and knew he had been caught, so he quickly returned my money.  Hopefully, this is just one step in bringing some accountability to one Hungarian police man.  (I thought afterward that it might have been
more effective if I had him pay me some  extra, but I think I got the point across.)  If more people hear this story and do the same, perhaps this can be repeated many times over and corruption can be undermined in countries around the world.  So, if you know someone that might find himself dealing with corruption, send them this webpage.

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