‘Traditional financial crime & cyber-attacks are converging, requiring new skills & approaches to the problem’, US officials have recently commented.
The US Secret Service has now formed the Cyber Fraud Task Forces (CFTFs), aimed at preventing, detecting & mitigating complex cyber-enabled financial crime & making arrests & convictions.
CFTF is the result of a formal merging of 2 of the Secret Service’s existing units into a single unified network. The Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) & the Financial Crimes Task Forces (FCTFs), the division said in a recent media statement. The reason for the move is that online cyber-crime & financial fraud have now converged to where it is impossible to address one without the other, it explained.
“In today’s environment, no longer can investigators effectively pursue a financial or cyber-crime investigation without understanding both the financial & internet sectors, as well as the technologies & institutions that power each industry,” officials observed. “Secret Service investigations today require the skills, technologies & strategic partnerships in both the cyber & financial realms.”
In fact, nearly all of the Secret Service’s traditional financial crime investigations use digital evidence, & the group acknowledged that increasing technological sophistication by bad players has caused a proliferation of ‘blended’ cyber-enabled financial crimes.
These include business email compromise (BECs) scams, ransomware attacks, data breaches & the sale of stolen credit cards & personal information on the internet.
Cyber Fraud Task Forces
“The creation of the new Cyber Fraud Task Forces (CFTF), will offer a specialized cadre of agents & analysts, trained in the latest analytical techniques & equipped with the most cutting-edge technologies,” outlined Michael D’Ambrosio, Assistant Director of the Secret Service.
“Together with our partners, the CFTFs stand ready to combat the full range of cyber-enabled financial crimes. As the nation continues to grapple with the wave of cyber-crime associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the CFTFs will lead the effort to hold accountable all those who seek to exploit this perilous moment for their own illicit gain.”
Keith McCammon, Chief Security Officer & Co-Founder of Red Canary said that an overwhelming majority of threat players are financially motivated.
“These criminals manipulate software, end users & a wide variety of financial services & technologies with increasing sophistication to achieve their objectives,” he observed via email.
“The wide variety of technical and financial systems in play can be viewed as complicating factors in investigations, & they are. But every system that a criminal uses presents an opportunity to identify, track & ultimately disrupt their operations.”
The US Secret Service also commented that it has broken up “hundreds” of COVID19-related cyber-fraud scams since March, when US Coronavirus lock-downs went into place. It, thus, has prevented 10s of millions of dollars in fraud from occurring, officials stated.
In terms of particular successes, the Secret Service has stopped the illegal sales of online stolen COVID-19 test kits & is now leading a “nationwide effort to investigate & counter a vast transnational unemployment fraud scheme targeting the US state unemployment programs,” it commented .
There are 42 Secret Service domestic CFTF locations with 2 international locations, in London & Rome. The law-enforcement group said that it plans to further extend the CFTF network to include as many as 160 offices across the US & worldwide.
“Our success requires that investigators have a ‘holistic’ understanding of modern criminal operations, from how they target & interact with victims to how they get paid, so that any mistake along the way can be used to the advantage of law enforcement,” McCammon further explained.
“By combining the Financial & Electronic Crimes Task Forces, our expertise across domains can be leveraged more effectively, putting the Secret Service & its partners in a vastly improved position to understand, disrupt, & prosecute modern frauds.”