This past week, I attended a law enforcement conference in California where I had the chance to meet with many different police groups. During my time in California, I met a police officer from a small city who described a unique and aggressive strategy his department has taken against cybercrime. Many times I hear local police or prosecutors express frustration that they cannot effectively fight cybercrime at the local level. The police officer I met has solved many of these problems and his success should be a model worth copying not only in the United States but globally.
The police officer I spoke with has taken the approach that an arrest is not a sufficient response to cybercrime, the cybercriminal should really pay---literally. His department is partnering with U.S. federal law enforcement to enforce financial forfeiture laws against criminals who commit cybercrimes. A cybercriminal, if caught, not only risks jail time, but the criminal may be forced to forfeit large sums of income or assets. The local police then use these funds to pay for their investigation costs and to upgrade their equipment. One large case, even helped fund salaries for additional officers. This approach provides two very good results. It provides a strong financial deterrent against cybercrime and it also helps police cover the costs for their investigations. The police officer I spoke with noted that thanks to seized funds from cybercriminals, his local department has great technical resources and even helped fund training for federal cybercrime investigators. So what are the results of this approach? Based on the people I spoke with this effort resulted in a happy prosecuting attorney, skilled police with great resources, and a town where cybercrime definitely does not pay.
Cybercriminals paying for police training and technology. A success story that truly highlights the power of smart local police work.