Answer: Credit card skimming.
Aptly named, the handheld prototype device was thought up by cybersecurity expert Patrick Traynor. After falling victim one too many times to the practice of credit card skimming, where nefarious individuals install devices in ATMs and gas pumps to steal credit card information, the University of Florida computer science professor set about finding a better way to stop it.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has been pilot testing five Skim Reapers since February and is pleased with the results. “I've been doing skimming for approximately five years now and I have never used anything like this or have known of anything like this,” James Lilla, a detective with NYPD, told AP News. “It's definitely an assist we can use to combat ATM skimming.”