DISTRICT ATTORNEY - NEW YORK COUNTY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2010
New Bureau Will Combat Sophisticated Computer Crime Schemes Worldwide
DA Vance Announces Appointment of former State of New Jersey Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman as Chief of New Bureau
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the formation of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau. This bureau will re-focus, enhance and expand the resources and abilities of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office to combat identity theft and complex high-technology crimes, including terrorist activity and child exploitation. District Attorney Vance also announced the appointment of David Szuchman, who was until recently the Director of the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, as Chief of the new Bureau.
“Today’s announcement reflects the Office’s commitment to protecting the public by staying a step ahead of criminals,” District Attorney Vance said. “By recognizing the growing role of technology in complex criminal schemes, and by enhancing our abilities to use cutting-edge technology against such schemes, we will improve our efforts to investigate, prosecute, and prevent such crimes. The internet is truly the crime scene of the 21st century – its borderless nature makes it easier for criminals and predators from all over the globe to target victims anywhere and everywhere. The challenge for law enforcement is to make sure we have the tools to combat these sophisticated criminals.”
Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children highlight the threat posed by cyber predators. The Center reported in 2006 that for children ages 10 – 17:
More than one-third (34 percent) saw sexual material online they did not want to see
9 percent experienced online harassment
Approximately 1 in 7 received unwanted sexual solicitations – 4 percent were aggressive solicitations in which solicitors made or attempted to make offline connections with the children.
Federal statistics from the United States Department of Justice show a 33 percent increase in cybercrime complaints in 2008. This is consistent with increases seen in cases handled by the Office. In the past two years, Assistant District Attorneys have noted a marked increase in the use of the internet in all manner of criminal conduct, including money laundering, check fraud, cyber impersonation, and cyber-credit card fraud. The Bureau will also support the Office’s investigations into cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying, two prevalent criminal behaviors victimizing children and adults; as well as investigations into the exploitation of children, child pornography, and human trafficking. Finally, there have been increases in cases involving the hacking and attempted hacking of financial institutions in Manhattan, which threaten the security and stability of our financial markets, and the District Attorney’s Office must be prepared to meet that threat.
In addition, the new Bureau will continue the Office’s highly-successful focus on identity theft, using Assistant District Attorneys who have specialized training and expertise to prosecute such crimes. Identity theft crimes range from using a stolen credit card for a single purchase to opening multiple accounts in a victim's name, falsifying documents, and using false identities to effect large frauds. The current Identity Theft Unit handles more than 200 such cases each month, and has in recent years investigated and brought to justice criminals involved in every kind of crime, including schemes resulting in the theft and criminal use of the identities of thousands of innocent people and the theft of tens of millions of dollars from individuals, businesses, and government agencies. In addition to attorneys, the Bureau will have a dedicated team of highly-trained of investigators and forensic analysts, led by nationally recognized computer crimes and computer forensic experts.
Mr. Szuchman was nominated to his previous position by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in 2008 and confirmed by the New Jersey State Senate. As Director of Consumer Affairs, he oversaw a 600-person agency responsible for all statewide consumer affairs initiatives. This included New Jersey’s efforts on internet safety and e-commerce. Mr. Szuchman worked with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to reach the groundbreaking agreement with Facebook and other social networking sites that incorporated the “Report Abuse” icon into the sites. This makes it easier for internet users to identify and quickly report inappropriate, abusive or potentially illegal activities on-line.
Mr. Szuchman had also previously worked as a federal prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. As a Trial Attorney in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the DOJ, Mr. Szuchman prosecuted criminal cases involving child pornography, internet crimes, money laundering, sex trafficking of minors, and child abuse. He led international cyber investigations and initiatives involving offenses committed against children working closely with a then newly-created computer forensic and investigative unit located within the Department of Justice. Mr. Szuchman was also responsible for the training of federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors on cybercrimes. Mr. Szuchman previously worked in the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan from 1997 until 2001, handling cases of street crime, sex offenses, and domestic violence.