The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 19, 2002


Carlisle police prepare to fight cybercrime

Computer crime is the focus of a 16-hour class sponsored by the New England Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC). Carlisle Detective Scott Barnes is currently taking the class, and will subsequently be temporarily reassigned to the Medford police department for two weeks to do field work with them on current computer crime investigations.

Computer crime encompasses a range of activities including e-mail or instant message threats, stolen identity, credit card fraud and pornography. In a recent interview, Barnes said that the incidence of cybercrime is rising and that the Carlisle police department gets about 10 to 12 calls a month that come under this category of investigation. Within the past two weeks he has beeen involved in the investigation of a case of stolen identity (the use of an existing person's vital statistics and e-mail address to open a new account) and a hijacked home page. Persons committing computer crimes range in age and in skill from high school hackers to "smart criminals who know exactly how to operate and who are tied into organized crime."

Tracking computer crime

Barnes says the investigation of computer crime starts with the local police department. The use of phone lines makes the case also a federal crime. When evidence is gathered and a charge made, federal investigators take over primary investigatory responsibility and the case goes to the superior court. Sentences range from a few months to up to twenty years in prison.

When his phone rings and a resident complains about computer-related crime, Barnes first asks for the e-mail involved. From that he can determine the IP or Internet Protocol, which will enable him to identify the person sending the message, who is often anonymous. With that information he can subpoena the account and request information about it. He will then need a search warrant to go through the computer files to obtain information to present in court. Using that evidence, he can either arrest the perpetrator or request a summons for charge.

Advice for computer users who suspect crime.

If there is a suspicion of fraud or pornography, the recipient should always save the e-mail. This enables Barnes to track the usually anonymous sender. Residents who suspect computer crime is occurrng should contact the Carlisle police or Detective Barnes, at 1-978-369-1155. Residents are also advised to monitor their credit records to see if unauthorized use is being made of credit cards or charge accounts.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito