As federal investigators recognize the connections between cyber and traditional financial crimes, the U.S. Secret Service has established a single agency to fight them, the Secret Service announced in a press release.
The Electronic Crimes Task Forces and Financial Crimes Task Forces will be merged into the Cyber Fraud Task Forces (CFTF).
Its mission "is to prevent, detect and mitigate complex cyber-enabled financial crimes" in an effort to arrest and convict the most harmful offenders, the Secret Service said the release.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Secret Service, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, said it has focused on deterring criminal activity related to the pandemic and recovering stolen funds from Americans.
Working together under the CFTF model has allowed for improved data sharing and investigative skill development, the agency said in the release.
As a result, the Secret Service has disrupted hundreds of online coronavirus-related scams, investigated cyber fraud cases, put a stop to sales of stolen COVID-19 test kits, prevented tens of millions of dollars in fraud from occurring and is leading the nation’s effort to combat unemployment payment fraud, the Secret Service said in the release.
“The creation of the new Cyber Fraud Task Force will offer a specialized cadre of agents and analysts, trained in the latest analytical techniques and equipped with the most cutting-edge technologies,” said Michael D’Ambrosio, assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, in a statement. “Together with our partners, the CFTFs stand ready to combat the full range of cyber-enabled financial crimes.”
Before the merge, cybercrime investigators required extra training to conduct computer forensic investigations, exams, trace internet addresses and collaborate with tech companies. Meanwhile, "traditional financial crimes investigators worked to secure and protect the U.S. financial infrastructure by tracking fraudulent wire transfers, counterfeit checks and combating counterfeit currency," the release states.
But investigators cannot pursue a financial or cybercrime investigation without understanding the financial and online sectors, as well as the technologies and institutions that power each industry, the agency added.
Today, the Secret Service has 42 CFTF offices in the U.S., one in London and one in Rome. The agency plans to expand the network to 160 offices globally, the release states.