California Attorney General Kamala Harris was in San Jose Tuesday to introduce the state’s new eCrime Unit, which will be responsible for identifying and prosecuting identity theft crimes, cyber crimes, and other crimes involving the use of technology.
“Today’s criminals increasingly use the Internet, smartphones, and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline,” Harris said in a press conference at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
“I am creating the eCrime Unit so that California can be a leader in using innovative law enforcement techniques to target these criminals. The eCrime Unit will be comprised of investigators and prosecutors charged with working across jurisdictions and leading task forces to protect California consumers and businesses.”
The unit is made up of 20 Department of Justice attorneys and investigators who have already spent years working on complex technology crimes. They will prosecute cases that include a substantial technology component such as identity theft, internet-based fraud, computer theft, intellectual property crimes, and child exploitation.
According to Harris’ office many of these types of crimes are multi-jurisdictional and therefore better suited for state prosecution, rather than local. The AG’s office reports that more than 1 million Californians become victims of identity theft each year. Total cyber crime related losses in 2010 topped $45 million.
“Every year, California loses millions of dollars because the intellectual capital of our state is being hijacked by criminal elements,” Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D- San Jose) said.
“The addition of the eCrime Unit to California’s fight against technology crimes sends a clear message that we are determined to root out this type of illegal activity.”