Imagine calling your local police after you’ve been mugged and being told, “Sorry, muggings are complicated. We don’t handle those. Try the FBI.”
That’s exactly what happens every day when Americans call their local police to report online bank fraud, tax-return fraud and other crimes committed via the Internet. I work on this a lot as a police detective. From what I’ve seen, outside of a few cutting-edge offices like Manhattan’s district attorney and some computer crime task forces that work with the FBI or the Secret Service, the vast majority of American police and prosecutors have received precious little training in how to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes.
This must change. All policing — even a fair amount of cyberpolicing — is local. Many of the cybercrimes that hit people in the wallet aren’t complex, cross-jurisdictional hacks by Ukrainian ninjas. Instead, Internet-enabled cons like card-skimming, business email compromise, tax-return refund fraud and electronic fund transfer fraud often begin and end locally. The perpetrators are frequently small-time crooks known to the cops for other types of crime.
We can’t tackle all cybercrime, but we should make an effort to pick low-hanging fruit. The feds do a great job at the cases they work on. But they can’t possibly handle the total workload. Americans have lost more than $107 billion since 2011 just to identity theft.
Read complete editorial at Washington Post.