Last week the United States Secret Service announced the creation of the “Cyber Fraud Task Force,” to focus on the investigation of cyber financial crimes. The new task force is the result of a merger of two prior groups focusing on cyber crime and financial crime respectively, and is an acknowledgement that many if not most financial crimes have a significant online component these days. After all, why bother crawling the streets with dirty, gun-toting conspirators when you can suck millions of dollars out of the world economy from the air-conditioned comfort of your parent’s basement?
In theory the new task force will allow the Service to utilize the expertise of both groups in a more coherent and uniform fashion. The Secret Service has long been involved in the investigation of financial crimes, and was originally part of the Treasury Department. Now part of the Department of Homeland Security, there are discussions in Washington about moving the Secret Service back to Treasury, however, as part of an increased focus on financial crimes.
Although this decision has been years in the making, the timing during the coronavirus pandemic is not necessarily a coincidence, given a significant uptick in financial crimes expected in the wake of efforts to keep the world economy afloat, including PPP and record numbers of unemployment claims.