Computer Crime Research Center


FBI opens new cybercrimes unit

Date: June 19, 2006
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Steve Horrell

Six years ago, cybercrime such as online financial fraud, computer tampering, Internet child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child barely registered a blip on the radar screen.

All that, of course, has changed and on Tuesday the FBI announced the creation of the Metro East Cyber Crimes and Analysis Task Force to assist local police agencies in their investigations.

"Cybercrime is a global issue," said Emmerson Buie, Jr., supervisory senior resident agent with the FBI's Fairview Heights division. "It's our No. 3 priority. Everyone recognizes that the FBI does have a lot of resources, and we can coordinate with other federal agencies that aren't, per se, in Illinois," he said at a news conference.

Participating police departments include Glen Carbon, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and the Madison County Sheriff's Department. Edwardsville police are not taking part and Buie was asked whether the task force would work with Edwardsville police should the need arise.

"We surely will," he said. "We recognize that everyone has resource issues. That's one of the reasons we developed the task force: to pool the resources that we have in the Metro East so that we can have a bigger pool to pull from."

Such a collaboration would not have been necessary 20 years ago, said Janice Fields, assistant special agent for the FBI. "But today we're doing just that," she said. "We're going to be working as a cohesive group to identify and neutralize one of the most significant threats we have -- cybercrime." She added: "This is a huge agenda for the FBI. Without the assistance from our local law enforcement, we could not do it."

In the Metro East, 15 local, state and federal agencies will share information and resources. The MCCA will be the FBI's 94th cybercrimes task force nationwide. The Internet Crime Complaint Center was created six years ago to serve as a centralized complaint center, and cybercrime complaints have risen steadily since then, according to Marshall Stone, supervisory special agent with the FBI's Springfield division.

Last year, ICCC received 231,493 complaints, an 11 percent increase from 2004. The complaints dealt with a variety of Internet crime, including auction fraud and credit card fraud, as well as computer intrusions, spam and child pornography.

David Vucich is the Madison County Sheriff's Department's representative on the new task force. He heads the Forensic Computer Crimes Unit that the sheriff's department opened last August to fight Internet child pornography, sexual exploitation, and other cybercrime.

Until then, such investigations were often left to state and federal agencies to handle. Vucich has spent much of his time monitoring chat rooms, where sexual predators often visit.

Vucich played a key role in the investigation of George S. Jaynes. Earlier this month, prosecutors charged him with 10 counts of possessing child pornography. Detectives got a search warrant and seized more than 200 computer discs from Jaynes' Edwardsville home. Vucich and other detectives spent hours painstakingly searching the discs, image by image, to determine when the photos were taken and whether the subjects were minors. In the end, Vucich found scores of images of boys and girls ranging from age 5 to about 12 or 13. Jaynes could face up to five years in prison on each count.

The number of instances like the Jaynes' case has been on the rise in recent years, said Madison County Sheriff Robert Hertz. "The example I give is if you put a stack of cash on the table, people will find a way to access it, and if you have this kind of thing (child pornography) available to people, they're going to take advantage of it and access it," he said. "But they leave a footprint that we can trace."

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