News & Resources

California unit to counter ID theft

Jan 11, 2012 Karen Umpierre

Until recently, technology-based crimes such as identity theft were typically slow to prosecute in California, primarily due to ambiguity between counties over how to proceed, the Los Angeles Times reports. However, state attorney general Kamala D. Harris decided to change all that with the creation of California's eCrime Unit, enacted to "make sure that vulnerable populations are safe, that consumers are safe and that we allow good behavior to occur," she explained during a press conference earlier this week. The unit has been operational since August, and investigates and prosecutes all crimes related to false identity authentication, phishing scams, fraudulent internet auctions, child exploitation, child pornography, theft of computer services and intellectual property and other tech-related crimes. Thus far the unit is made up of 20 investigators and attorneys, although Harris expects that number to grow in the coming months. "Today's criminals increasingly use the internet, smartphones and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline," said Harris, as quoted by InformationWeek. "I am creating the eCrime Unit so that California can be a leader in using innovative law enforcement techniques to target these criminals." The news source adds that California ranked No. 1 in ID theft last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission, losing $46 million to those crimes alone.