By Larry O'dell, The Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Federal and state law enforcement agencies are
joining forces to combat computer crimes, officials announced
The Cyber-Crime Strike Force will have a staff of seven
investigators: four from the FBI, two from the state Attorney General
Jerry Kilgore's office and one from the Virginia State Police. They
will work out of the Richmond FBI office, which has a computer lab
from which online undercover investigations may be conducted.
Three attorneys from Kilgore's office and one from the office of U.S.
Attorney Paul J. McNulty will prosecute the cases in state and
The strike force also will work closely with the Bedford County
Sheriff's Office, which formed its own "Blue Ridge Thunder" task
force to track down online pedophiles in 1998.
McNulty said at a news conference that the partnership will help
agencies share intelligence and bring computer criminals to justice
"Cyberspace has a dark side," McNulty said. "This incredible
technology is especially attractive to the criminal mind."
Kilgore agreed, noting that the Internet can be a sophisticated
weapon for criminals as well as a virtually indispensable tool for
"Criminals can raid bank accounts without even leaving home," Kilgore
said. "... Worse yet, children can be preyed upon in our very own
homes with a few clicks of the mouse."
Don Thompson, special agent in charge of the FBI in Richmond, said
the strike force will go after hackers, scam artists, identity
thieves, sexual predators and purveyors of child pornography. He said
"protection of critical infrastructure and information systems" is
among the FBI's top three priorities.
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Thompson said that along with investigating crimes, strike force
members will educate the public and businesses on cyber-crime
prevention and the importance of reporting such crimes.