Manhattan District Attorney getting new cyber crime lab
The Manhattan district attorney's office is getting a new lab to handle an increase in cyber crimes, officials announced Tuesday.
D.A. Cyrus Vance said the new facility, which is set to open in 2013, is necessary to keep up with thugs’ using high-tech gadgets during, or for crimes, adding that "virtually every case" involves a high-tech component, like analyzing computers, text messages and social media posts.
"The Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century," Vance said, adding that his office saw a 200% jump in the number of computers it had to inspect in 2011 when compared to the prior year, in addition to about 1,000 cellphones analyzed each year. He estimated a 50% increase in Manhattan cyber crimes over the last five years.
"Any business who doesn't think that they are at risk of this kind of cyber intrusion is a business that doesn't realize that it has either already happened and they don't know it, or it's happened and they've started to address it," said Vance, who said he had recently become a victim of identity theft. Last weekend, he noticed purchases that he didn't make on his credit card bill at a Dunkin' Donuts and Trader Joes.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the council was contributing $4.2 million to build the new lab, which will be located at the DA's downtown offices and is expected to open by the end of 2013.
"In this day and age, we need to be as sophisticated as criminals are," Quinn said.
Vance said he still needed extra money to pay for new equipment, but wouldn't give a price tag on the gadgets or say who would be footing the bill.
His office has handled several cases in the past couple of years that involved ID theft and Internet crimes, including two Canadians who admitted to stealing people's debit card information and pins and an online network where people were allegedly trading images of sex abuse involving young children.