California has a new eCrime Unit devoted to catching and prosecuting Internet Age crooks.
State attorney general Kamala Harris created the team, which is comprised of 20 attorneys and investigators specializing in identity theft and cyber crime.
"Today's criminals increasingly use the Internet, smartphones, and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline," Harris said while unveiling the unit in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose.
"I am creating the eCrime Unit so that California can be a leader in using innovative law enforcement techniques to target these criminals."
Crimes targeted include email scams, online fraud, piracy, child porn, and real-world heists of computer gear by organized gangs, according to Harris.
Cases handled by the unit, which was formed in August but whose existence was only revealed on Tueseday, include a man sentenced to prison for hacking email and Facebook accounts to get embarrassing pictures used to blackmail victims in Britain and the United States.
Another case involved a group that secretly installed card scanners and hidden cameras at bank teller machines to get account information and passwords to steal an estimated two million dollars.
"As the importance of the Internet to our economy has grown, criminals have moved online to steal valuable information and goods from individuals and businesses," said Jeffrey Rosen, district attorney of the county in which San Jose is located.
"In the 21st Century, law enforcement will be increasingly combating online criminal activity."
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