Last month, State Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the creation of a new law enforcement unit to address the growing problems associated with identity theft and cybercrime. According to the F.T.C., California has the most identity theft complaints of any state (over a million complaints annually), and the third highest number per-capita. Known as the California e-Crime Unit, this new law enforcement group will include a group of 20 investigators and prosecutors whose sole responsibility will be to prosecute cybercrime.


While Florida, Texas, and Louisiana already have similar units in place, California’s promises to be the largest such unit yet created, with a broader mandate. Criminal activity such as identity theft, internet scamming, and hacking will be the units’ primary focus. The problem with catching cybercriminals is not the ability to track their activity, or to find sufficient evidence of their crimes. So then why is it decidedly more difficult to actually bring a cybercriminal or identity thief to justice? The primary reason is the relatively new unique challenges cybercrime presents.

Primary amongst these is the fact that a significant amount of cybercrime transcends traditional jurisdictional boundaries. Often it is beyond the scope of an individual local police force or district attorney to effectively build a case against and prosecute criminals who may commit their crimes in multiple counties, states, or even countries. Additionally such complication makes it confusing for the consumer to know just how to most effectively get help for their identity theft issues. These are exactly the issues Harris and this new task force are hoping to address. By developing a unit completely focused on cybercrime, with the mobility to help individual local and county jurisdictions seamlessly could potentially be a game changer in the battle on identity theft and cyber crime that has to this point, been a losing one. This is one of the strongest and most encouraging indicators yet that the severity of this problem is finally starting to hit home in the minds of legislators and law enforcement officials.

“Identity Theft and Cyber Crime Blues: California’s New eCrime Unit Gets Tough on Cyber Criminals” was written by Matt Davis. Matt is a Victim Advisor at the Identity Theft Resource Center.