Man swallows flash drive, charged with obstruction

A man suspected of skimming data from ATMs swallows a flash drive and is forced to undergo a procedure to have it removed from his body. It's unclear if the data remained intact.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Think of the worst thing you have ever swallowed. Haggis, perhaps? Maybe pig's ear? Arguments you have swallowed don't count.

You see, I want to get you into the appropriate mood for the story of Florin Necula. Necula seems to have gotten himself into a bothersome situation with the upstanding members of our Secret Service.

According to the Smoking Gun, they thought he might have been involved in an ingenious, if somewhat illegal, technological exercise, whereby he and several co-defendants used card readers to gain magnetic-strip information from cards that had been inserted into ATM machines.

And boy, did the data traveler have a journey. CC Curiouslee/Flickr

The agents arrested him and took him to a Secret Service office in Brooklyn. U.S District Court filings allege that peculiar things ensued there. The most peculiar involved one of the pieces of evidence--a Kingston flash drive.

Agent Joseph Borger (no relation to Lucretia) said that Necula "grabbed Subject Flash Drive 2, which had been on his person at the time of his arrest, and swallowed."

I have never swallowed a flash drive. I imagine it to be worse than swallowing, say, a sock. At least the sock would go soft, whereas the flash drive would surely scratch the epiglotis.

Once you've swallowed it, however, I imagine your insides don't make like a happy pinball machine. In Necula's case, the flash drive seems to have become the camel that was unable to pass through the eye of a needle.

After four days, he reportedly agreed to have it removed at a New York hospital. I would like to tell you how it was removed. But I can only offer you my best guess, namely that I suspect it might have involved much wincing and anesthetic.

I can also offer you that Mike Sanger, an executive at Kingston, told the Gun something rather surprising: "As you might imagine, we have no actual experience with someone swallowing a USB."

There is a possibility, for example, that Necula's stomach acid might have a corrosive effect on the stick's ability to excrete the data. There is also the possibility that a brave, inebriated, or merely intellectually curious Technically Incorrect reader has performed this stick-swallowing feat and lived to tell of the experience. We await that reader's story with high anticipation.

In the meantime, please be assured that Necula has been charged with four felonies. Perhaps the most emotive of these is the charge for obstruction.