The success and high profile of businesses in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and elsewhere have made California the specific target of international gangs of online criminals, according to a report released today by the office of the Attorney General of California.
California suffers more instances of cybercrime than any other state, according to a 181-page report published March 20 by the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, according to the Associated Press, which got an advance copy of the report.
California has the highest number of online identities stolen, systems infected with malware, financial losses, and total number of victims of online crime of any state in the country, according to the report, which puts part of the blame on gangs based in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Israel, Egypt, China, and Nigeria. “These organizations have taken advantage of the technological revolution of the last two decades, as well as advancements in trade, transport and global money transfers, to substantially increase the scale and profitability of their criminal activities in California,” stated the report.
However, much of the state’s crime problem has little to do with hackers or the Internet.
California’s border with Mexico and position on the Pacific Rim of the U.S. creates high levels of international traffic and trade, and makes it attractive for less legitimate international business, suggests the report, which estimates $30 billion in illicit loot is laundered through California’s economy every year. Some of the money is laundered electronically via Bitcoin or other online methods. However, “the report says backpacks and duffel bags stuffed with cash have been seized more frequently since Mexico began toughening its money laundering laws in 2010,” according to the AP.
The AG’s report recommended that state laws change to let prosecutors freeze the assets of international criminal organizations even before they seek an indictment, and increase punishments for those convicted of supervising or being involved in international criminal organizations.
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