Police struggling in the fight against cyber crime

Online scams. Identity theft. Cyber stalking. Malicious software. Computer hacking.

Online scams. Identity theft. Cyber stalking. Malicious software. Computer hacking.

The list is long when it comes to cyber crimes in today’s world, affecting growing governments, businesses and citizens in a variety of ways throughout the globe.

It’s a crime Det. Sgt. Derek Tolmie of the Victoria police financial crimes division admits police in general are struggling to keep up with. The reason, he said, is that cyber crime often crosses multiple jurisdictions, leaving police and the judicial system wondering who should investigate the case. Another problem is the sheer lack of resources compared to the number of criminals operating behind a screen anywhere in the world.

“We are so ill prepared to deal with cyber crime properly and the best we can combat it is to educate people,” said Tolmie, noting there’s no borders with the Internet. “There’s millions of people out there that are committing a crime and thousands of cops. We can’t keep up on it.”

According to Public Safety Canada, there are various ways thieves gain access to information in cyberspace. They can exploit vulnerabilities in software and hardware, and trick people into opening infected emails or visiting corrupted websites that infect their computers with malicious software.

They also take advantage of those who fail to follow basic cyber security practices, such as changing their passwords frequently, updating their antivirus protection on a regular basis and using only protected wireless networks. Once the crooks have access to a computer, they can steal or distort the information stored on it, corrupt its operations and program it to attack other computers and the systems to which they are connected.

In many cases, victims also suffer a theft of their identity and/or personal assets, with 1.7 million Canadians falling victim to the crime in 2008. The thieves sell the information stolen online, such as credit and debit card numbers, login passwords for computer servers and malicious software designed to infiltrate and damage targeted systems.

In 2013, the RCMP received more than 4,400 incidents of cybercrime — an increase of more than 40 per cent from 2011. As criminals become more sophisticated, so does the array of cyber attack tools and techniques.

According to Tolmie, police in the U.K. are leaders when it comes to fighting cyber crime, but Canada still has a lot of catching up to do. Investigating the crimes, however, is nearly impossible at times.

Tolmie rarely gets the money back when it comes to financial crimes, and even when there’s a paper trail for local frauds, it often involves crossing jurisdictions.

In one case investigated by Victoria police, a substantial amount of money was taken from a large company through a cyber attack. Officers managed to seize the money in an overseas bank account that was minutes away from being transferred to another bank. Three weeks were spent doing the appropriate documentation to have the money returned, but Tolmie said police aren’t any closer towards figuring out who’s responsible for the crime.

In another case, someone came into Victoria police headquarters to complain about a Craigslist scam where $300 was spent for two tickets to a concert in the Lower Mainland, but the tickets were never received. Police spent months working on the file and were able to determine the suspect — a female who was likely living in Edmonton at the time, but had since moved to Montreal, and was profiting $100,00 to $150,000 a year by ripping people off through online scams.

Detectives sent the file to the Crown in Victoria, but Tolmie said nobody wanted to own it since it involved a fraud under $300, one complainant living in Vancouver who responded to a Craigslist ad in Victoria, and a suspect now living in Montreal.

“Until the law enforcement gets on the same page as the courts, we’re going to be constantly chasing our tails,” said Tolmie, who can’t believe some of the things people put about themselves online.

“At the end of the day, common sense goes a long way….We have to start taking responsibility for our own actions. We can’t always count on the police or the government to protect ourselves when we don’t use common sense.”

Read the first part of the two-part series here.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

A family of ducks that lives near Saanich Municipal Hall recently welcomed 11 ducklings and took them for a swim in the koi pond outside the offices. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Pair of ducks make Saanich Municipal Hall a nursery for 11 hatchlings

Family of ducks spent time in koi pond before heading down to Swan Lake

The Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society (SAFARS) helps make a difference to more than 50 feral cats in the region. (Contributed - SAFARS)
Feral cat rescue group looking for support

SAFARS helps make a difference to abandoned cats in the region

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Central Saanich park among sites for local Garry oak restoration projects

Habitat Acquisition Trust received $140,000 in funding for 12 projects

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions cost thousands of service jobs

Part-time workers set back again by spike in virus spread

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)
Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training to better understand provincial mask mandate after posting picture

B.C. announced the launch of an app May 7 that connects youth struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services. (Screen grab)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youth and children launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6-million to fund a virtual care platform

Amazon has announced the creation of five new facilities in B.C., to employ about 2,000 people. (Amazon/Special to Black Press Media)
Amazon adds new facilities in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Delta, Vancouver

The Vancouver port centre will be the first Amazon centre to feature robotics in B.C.

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read