Secret Service Launches Cyber-Fraud Task Force

The United States Secret Service has announced the creation of a new network of task forces to tackle both traditional and newfangled financial crimes.

In recognition of the growing convergence of classic financial crimes with modern financial crimes that feature a cyber element, the service is formally merging its Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) and Financial Crimes Task Forces (FCTFs) into a single unified network. 

This new network of crime-fighting crews will be known as the Cyber Fraud Task Forces (CFTF). The Secret Service said that the mission of the CFTF is “to prevent, detect, and mitigate complex cyber-enabled financial crimes, with the ultimate goal of arresting and convicting the most harmful perpetrators.”

In a statement released on July 9, the Service said that the CFTF will pick up where the other two task forces left off, representing “an evolution, not a revolution from the ECTF and FCTF model.” 

The CFTF “will offer a specialized cadre of agents and analysts, trained in the latest analytical techniques and equipped with the most cutting-edge technologies,” according to US Secret Service Assistant Director Michael D’Ambrosio.

A trial of the new model had already improved America’s ability to disrupt and deter criminal activity, in particular scams that exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The CFTF model has allowed for better data sharing, institutional alliance, and investigative skill development,” said a Service spokesperson.

“Through these efforts, the Secret Service has successfully disrupted hundreds of online COVID-19 related scams, investigated a number of cyber-fraud cases, halted the illicit sales of online COVID-19 test kits, prevented tens of millions of dollars in fraud from occurring, and is leading a nation-wide effort to investigate and counter a vast transnational unemployment fraud scheme targeting the US state unemployment programs.”

D’Ambrosio said that the CFTF will focus in particular on holding accountable any cyber-criminals who seek to exploit the “perilous moment” created by the global health pandemic “for their own illicit gain.” 

The Secret Service has 42 domestic CFTF locations with two international sites in London and in Rome. Plans have been added to extend the CFTF network further to encompass 160 offices globally. 

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