(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine praised today's passage by the Ohio General Assembly of new legislation that will strengthen his ability to pursue cyber fraud and assist in prosecutions. State Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) sponsored SB 223 and Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) sponsored companion legislation.
Attorney General DeWine also expressed thanks for passage of legislation creating a statewide Blue Alert system in Ohio that will assist in cases where law enforcement have been injured or killed in the line of duty. State Sen. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), and state Sen. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), whose son was a Cleveland Heights Police Officer who died in the line of duty in 2010, sponsored the legislation.
"Today, Ohio has taken great steps in protecting its citizens and law enforcement on the front lines," said Attorney General DeWine. "We will use the tools the legislature has given us to continue to work hard in protecting Ohioans."
The Blue Alert will assist law enforcement in the capture of an individual who has either seriously harmed or killed a law enforcement officer. Much like Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts, Blue Alerts utilize broadcast alert systems to relay information about the suspect to the public in a timely manner.
Thirteen other states have adopted Blue Alert systems, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
The cyber fraud legislation will give Attorney General DeWine the authority to subpoena the phone records, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and payment information in suspected cyber fraud cases and prepare them for prosecution by a county or special prosecutor. The legislation will enable the Attorney General's Office to better assist local law enforcement with any investigation.
Cyber fraud is a form of telecommunications fraud or wire fraud, where the theft or scam occurs by electronic communication. Cyber fraud has been advanced by scammers using e-commerce websites such as eBay and Craigslist, social media platforms such as Facebook, or phone scams to pose as family members or telemarketers.
Cyber fraud's complexity makes it difficult to investigate and taxes the resources of most local law enforcement agencies. Further hindering local investigations is that cyber fraud is commonly reported to state and federal agencies rather than local law enforcement.
The legislation will complement efforts started last year by Attorney General DeWine when he created the Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division, which conducts criminal investigations within the Consumer Protection Section. After only two such cases were prosecuted in 2010, the new division has assisted in investigations leading to 11 suspects being charged with felonies for committing crimes against consumers. The division also has numerous investigations pending.
Consumers who believe they may have been a victim of cyber fraud should file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840