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Group sets cybercrime-fighting priorities

The National Cybercrime Training Partnership issues its top 10 recommendations for preparing and aiding law enforcement agencies in their fight against cybercrime.

State and local law enforcement agencies looking to fight high-tech crimes need to set up special crime units, work with technology companies, and push for updated laws, according to a list of recommendations by a national cybercrime organization.

The National Cybercrime Training Partnership issued its top 10 recommendations Tuesday for preparing and aiding law enforcement agencies in their cybercrime fight.

Crimes range from online auction fraud like eBay encountered last year, when three men allegedly sold a fake Richard Diebenkorn painting, to a Los Angeles man who allegedly engaged in cyberstalking after a woman spurned his advances.

There are stock manipulation cases like Emulex, which saw its shares tank after a bogus press release was posted on the Internet. And then there are the child pornography and endangerment cases, such as the one involving former Infoseek executive Patrick J. Naughton, who pleaded guilty last year to traveling across state lines to have sex with a minor he met on the Internet.

Last year, the San Jose Police Department created a high-tech crime unit and increased its staffing to a lieutenant, two sergeants and five investigators. Previously, high-tech crimes were handled out of the fraud unit and had a much smaller staff.

"Our department recognized that high-tech crimes are the wave of the future, and they have tried to stay ahead of that future," said Sgt. John Savala, with the San Jose Police Department High Technology Crime Unit.

San Jose's efforts mirror one of the recommendations made by the nonprofit National Cybercrime Training Partnership after it surveyed 31 state and local law enforcement representatives. Other suggestions included standardized training and certification courses and updated investigative and forensic technology tools.

That would help officers like Savala deal with e-commerce fraud, which represents the bulk of the crimes that come across his desk.

The majority of cyberfraud cases involve people who paid for items that never arrived, he said. And Savala noted that while in the past a beat cop may have gone to a victim's home to take a report, hoodwinked consumers now file the information online.

"The average officer on the street is handling hit-and-runs, domestic cases and other crimes against people. They don't take reports for online credit card theft or other property crimes that happen online," Savala said. "Although the beat officers are taking fewer (cybercrime) calls now, the work has increased for investigators."