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Police team up to fight cyber-crime

October 27, 2017

GREENWICH — Greenwich police investigators are joining a task force to fight cyber-crime.

The task force will target a range of cyber-criminals: perpetrators who steal intellectual property; compromise businesses through denial of service attacks; mount phishing campaigns to loot personal data; and engineer ransomware and malware attack, U.S. Attorney Deidre Daly said

To do so, it will draw from a range of specialties. The team will employ law-enforcement personnel who have expertise in software, finance, data storage, programming, foreign languages and the so-called “dark web” where illicit goods and service are obtained.

“This is a cutting-edge kind of investigation,” said Greenwich police Lt. John Slusarz. “It’s interstate, and international, it goes across the world.”

The New Haven-based task force includes representatives from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Connecticut State Police and 11 police departments across the state, including Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk. said the Greenwich will provide one or two officers to the task force, on a part-time, as needed basis, Slusarz said.

The task force will also go after the illicit acquisition and distribution of fentanyl and other drugs that cause of thousands of overdose deaths annually, Daly said. Much of that trade takes place on the Internet.

The kinds of attacks on businesses and individuals using computers and digital devices has been growing steadily over the years.

“The Connecticut Cyber Task Force will address the significant increase in the number and frequency of cyber-attacks occurring in Connecticut,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia M. Ferrick, in a press release. “It is our hope that this task force will make a significant impact and serve to better protect the citizens of Connecticut from the ever-changing criminal threats emanating from the internet.”

Daly said cyber attacks in the region have come from perpetrators both inside and outside of the country, and suspects have been extradited from Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and the United Kingdom for their alleged crimes.

Slusarz, of the Greenwich police, said cyber-crime was not confined to any particular area of the region, or towns like Greenwich and Stamford with large business and financial operations. “Everywhere is ground zero,” he said.

The Greenwich department has a financial-crime specialist, Det. Mark Solomon, who is currently working with a separate financial-crime task force headed by the U.S. Secret Service.

Slusarz said the staffing of the new computer task force would take some time, to ensure a broad cross-section of skills were tapped.

“As the program gets off the ground, we’ll have a better sense of what resources are needed,” he said. “Certain skills will be highly sought after.”

The Greenwich lieutenant noted that the department has a long-standing commitment to regional cooperation and partnership with other agencies.

In addition to the new investigative team, there will be a public-education component as well, advising businesses and computer-users on ways to avoid being victimized.

— Staff writer Jessica Lerner contributed to this story.

rmarchant@greenwichtime.com