(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine applauded today’s passage of legislation in the Ohio Senate that strengthens laws pertaining to cyber fraud. Senate Bill 223, which was approved by unanimously, gives the Attorney General’s Office authority to investigate cyber fraud crimes and prepare cases for local prosecution.
“The large number of consumer complaints we receive in the Attorney General’s Office regarding cyber fraud enables us to detect patterns of criminal activity. This legislation gives us the tools to investigate cyber fraud cases and help bring these scammers to justice,” said Attorney General DeWine.
Senate Bill 223 would give the Attorney General’s Office 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 would also enable the Attorney General’s Office to assist local law enforcement with any investigation.
In 2010, 7,304 Ohioans reported losing more than $10 million through thefts or scams involving electronic communications. Cyber fraud scammers often use e-commerce sites like eBay and Craigslist, social media platforms like Facebook, or telephone ruses posing as family members or telemarketers. Most local law enforcement agencies lack the resources to investigate complex cyber fraud cases; in addition, local efforts are also hindered by the fact that most cyber fraud is reported to state and federal agencies because the crimes occur over the phone or Internet.
The legislation complements efforts started by Attorney General DeWine creating the 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 indicted nine suspects in several counties for more than 35 felonies committed against Ohio consumers. The division also has over 40 further investigations pending.
“In March of this year, I pledged additional resources to help law enforcement and county prosecutors bring criminal scammers to justice. We’ve made significant progress, and this legislation enhances our ability to protect Ohio consumers from cyber fraud,” Attorney General DeWine said.
Senate Bill 223 is sponsored by State Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) and its companion in the Ohio House of Representatives (House Bill 329) is sponsored by State Representative Ross McGregor (R-Springfield).
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
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