(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today testified before committees of the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate on companion bills calling for the adoption of tougher laws dealing with cyber fraud that would give the Attorney General's Office authority to investigate cyber fraud crimes and prepare cases for local prosecution.
"Cyber fraud is one of the fastest growing problems for law enforcement. The Attorney General's Office receives a large number of consumer complaints that give us the unique ability to spot patterns of criminal activity. This legislation will give us the tools to investigate cyber fraud cases and help bring these scammers to justice," said Attorney General DeWine.
The proposed legislation will give the Attorney General's Office authority to investigate cyber fraud with subpoena power. The ability to subpoena the phone records, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and payment information will allow the Attorney General's Office to prepare these cases for prosecution by a county or special prosecutor and assist local law enforcement with any investigation.
Cyber fraud is a newer form of telecommunications fraud or wire fraud, where the theft or scam occurs by electronic communication. In 2010, 7,304 Ohioans reported being victims of cyber fraud, losing more than $10 million. Cyber fraud has been advanced by scammers using e-commerce websites like eBay and Craigslist, social media platforms like Facebook, or phone scams to pose as family members or telemarketers. Due to the complex nature of these cases, most local law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to investigate cyber fraud. Further hindering local investigations is the fact that most cyber fraud is reported to state and federal agencies because the crime occurs over the phone or Internet.
The proposed legislation complements efforts started by Attorney General DeWine creating the Economic Crimes Division within the office's Consumer Protection Section. The Economic Crimes Division was established to prepare criminal consumer fraud cases for local prosecution. After only two such cases were prosecuted in 2010, the new division has indicted suspects in several counties for more than twenty felonies committed against Ohio consumers.
"In March of this year, I pledged enhanced resources to help law enforcement and county prosecutors bring criminal scammers to justice. We have made significant progress bringing those who defraud consumers to justice, and this legislation will give us more tools to make a difference in the area of cyber fraud," Attorney General DeWine said.
The proposed legislation in the Senate (Senate Bill 223) is sponsored by State Senator Bacon and its companion in the Ohio House of Representatives by State Representative McGregor (House Bill 329).
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840