AG Announces eCrime Unit

Kamala Harris targets cybercrimes

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011  |  Updated 6:29 AM PDT
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Attorney General Kamala Harris was in Silicon Valley Tuesday to announce a new crime unit that focuses on eCrimes.

"Today's criminals increasingly use the Internet, smartphones, and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline," said Harris. "I am creating the eCrime Unit so that California can be a leader in using innovative law enforcement techniques to target these criminals. The eCrime Unit will be comprised of investigators and prosecutors charged with working across jurisdictions and leading task forces to protect California consumers and businesses."

The group of about 20 people is tasked with handling identity theft, child exploitation, piracy and other crimes that involve technology.
 
They use what Harris calls innovative law enforcement strategies against tech savvy criminals who target consumers and businesses.
       
Harris said more than 1 million people across the state annually are victims of identity theft as the number of criminals using technology to carry out illegal behavior and harass victims steadily climbs.
 
Last year, California had 10 of the top 25 metropolitan areas for identity-theft related consumer complaints with total losses across the state exceeding $46 million.

Here are some specific examples and descriptions of the kinds of crimes that the unit will prosecute:

  • Identity theft - The Internet provides new ways for criminals to steal personal information and identities whether through email phishing scams or trolling the Internet for personal information about others.
  • Fraud committed using the Internet - This includes scams perpetrated via email and on Internet auction websites.
  • Theft of computer components or services - Burglary and robbery of computers or other electronic devices by highly-organized gangs at manufacturing sites, storage facilities and retail stores.
  • Intellectual property crimes, such as counterfeiting or piracy - Large numbers of websites and online networks exist solely for the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, such as movies, music and software.
  • Child exploitation - Disrupting online child pornography networks and those who commit sex crimes against children using the Internet or social media.

Harris said many from the above list are multi-jurisdictional and are better suited for prosecution on a statewide level.

The Attorney General also announced the launch of a new web site devoted to cyber safety, which can be found at this link.

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