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Task force to target computer crimes in Hawai'i

Source: HonoluluAdvertiser.com
By Allison Schaefers
Date: June 18, 2003

U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo Jr. is forming a cybercrimes task force in response to what he calls an "increasing number of problems" with identity theft and fraud on O'ahu. "It's of substantial federal interest," Kubo said.

O'ahu has seen a spike in the number of identity theft and computer fraud complaints, Kubo said. Cybercrime is a large state and national concern, investigators say. The formation of a cybercrimes task force comes at a time when computer crime numbers are rising all over O'ahu and the nation. Hawai'i had the second-highest per-capita rate in the United States for Internet fraud complaints in 2002, reports the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, an online resource co-managed by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. With about 400 computer fraud complaints reported, Hawai'i's numbers were second only to the District of Columbia. Nationally, cybercrimes have tripled since 2001, according to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. The center referred 48,252 computer fraud complaints to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies last year, up from 16,775 in 2001. The fraud resulted in losses of $54 million, up from $17 million in 2001.

FBI Director Robert Mueller recently said that nationwide complaints increased 300 percent last year to 48,000. The center also processed an additional 36,920 complaints in 2002 for other computer-related crimes such as computer intrusions, unsolicited e-mails and child pornography. The FBI's Hawai'i office established its first cybercrime squad in January, responding to what investigators are calling "explosive growth" in computer-related crimes. Locally, investigators say it's clear the numbers are rising and complaints are growing. They're coming from local police but also from agencies like the Banking Securities Association, Kubo said. Once the task force is in place, members will take complaints from the public and gather intelligence on cybercrimes, Kubo said. Task force members will likely include local, state and federal law enforcement officers and members of the state department and diplomatic security agencies, he said. Kubo will introduce the task force members to the community, likely in July. "We need the community to help us," he said. "We can't address all the concerns without them."

Kubo has high hopes for the task force, saying that federal task forces, although a relatively new concept, have been very effective. "Look at the intelligence gathering and sharing that has occurred since 9-11," he said. "That's when we started to see all the borders being broken down."

It was shared information that helped investigators quickly arrest Kelley Marie Ferguson, the California resident, on O'ahu for the high-seas terrorism hoax.

Original article: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Jun/18/ln/ln15a.html

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