Cat And Mouse
Law enforcement officials are having a difficult time keeping up with fraudsters who use the Internet to commit their crimes. In addition to not having enough expertise to combat online fraud, experts such as George Fawrup, a supervisor at the Southern California High Tech Crimes Task Force, and Lt. Rick Craigo, Project Director of the unit, say law enforcement agencies do not have enough staff to devote to the growing problem. “I’ve been able to do so little,” says Fawrup, who has had an extensive career as a police detective in the state.
The FTC received more than 166,000 Internet fraud complaints in 2003 with losses totaling nearly $200 million. In the late 1990s, California created the Southern California task force and four other regional units as a way to bring experienced law enforcement officials from various agencies, including state police and U.S. Secret Service, together to focus on Internet fraud, online child pornography, and DVD piracy.
The high-tech units even work closely with leading Internet auction Web site eBay, which has become a target of fraudsters.
News media reports about “phishing” have helped to slow fraudsters who send deceptive emails in the name of legitimate businesses to consumers asking for their passwords and other personal information, says Fawrup.
However, fraudsters continue to find ways to hide their identities, making it difficult for the high-tech units to track down suspects.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Wall Street Journal (08/03/04) P. A1; Wingfield, Nick.