Computer Crime Research Center


Small advances made to fight computer crime

Date: February 19, 2005
By: Glenn Adams

UGUSTA, Maine - The head of the state police announced "modest" steps Thursday to bolster the task force that investigates one of Maine�s fastest-growing offenses: computer crime.

Col. Craig Poulin said a sergeant who now trains recruits at the state Criminal Justice Academy, Glenn Lang, will become supervisor of the Computer Crimes Task Force. Poulin said he�s also working on bringing a fourth investigator on the task force, which would double its current strength.

Without any new state funding available, Poulin said he must work with existing resources to make the changes. He said he�s also counting on a $90,000 federal training grant to keep the computer unit, which was established in 1999, going.

"It�s a modest effort at best," said Poulin. "I think it�s safe to say ... we�re all trying to do more with less."

Poulin�s announcement came amid a growing backlog in computer-related cases, especially those in which children are preyed upon. The number of Internet crimes against children jumped to 1,117 last year from 409 the previous year, a 173 percent increase, according to task force figures.

The number of criminal investigations involving computers increased to 510 last year, a 75 percent increase, while the number of requests for computer forensic examinations rose by 61 percent to 351 during the same period, the task force says.

Poulin acknowledged that the additional strength to the computer unit "is not going to impact (the backlog) that much." But he added, "In this business, you run backlogs."

The chief, who held a news conference at state Public Safety Department headquarters, said he did not know how many investigators would be needed to keep up with the rising tide of computer crimes, saying, "I�m not sure what that magic number would be."

Searching for possible new revenues that could help the task force, Poulin was not encouraged by federal budget figures released recently, saying they were "a good dose of reality."

Even with a backlog of reported cases, experts believe there are many more that never come to law enforcement officials� attention.

Only 10 to 15 percent of computer offenses can be detected because victims are often reluctant to give information they believe could damage their image or cause repeated crimes, according to an article on the Web site of the independent Computer Crime Research Center, a nonprofit international organization.

Crimes can range from possession of child pornography to spying on companies, destroying software and hardware, extortion and blackmail.

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