Internet Crime Is 'Scourge of 2000'
Bruce, Helen, The Birmingham Post (England)
Police chiefs in the West Midlands are warning of an explosion of crime on the Internet as it becomes the scourge of the 21st Century.
Senior officers of the National Crime Squad spoke of their fears of a wave of extortion and kidnap demands sweeping the UK's computers.
Their comments came as Staffordshire Police helped bring about a high-profile Internet child pornography prosecution.
Yesterday it was revealed the force helped two FBI agents track down a British paedophile who was transmitting pictures of his child-rape victim on the Internet.
Paul Cunningham (29), from Newcastle upon Tyne, was jailed for life after officers traced his home address through his e-mail account held in the Staffordshire area.
Meanwhile, NCS support staff regional head Det Supt John Pearson said it was essential to keep inventing new technology to keep pace with computer-literate criminals.
"There's not a great deal of Internet crime in the UK as yet but in the US they are making kidnap demands over the Internet and we are not far behind.
"There is a mass explosion of crime on the Internet and there is a national debate about who is going to take it on. It is difficult to even scope the problem.
"The Yahoo crash was seen as a precursor to extortion. They can crash the site once, they could do it again. What are we going to do if that happens?"
Det Supt Pearson added that electronic counter-surveillance was also getting increasingly advanced and admitted that off-the-shelf scanners could defeat some of the detectives' high-powered equipment.
Five per cent of the NCS's pounds 108 million annual budget is now spent on technological research in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the game.
The NCS, which is staffed by 1,450 police detectives, recovered pounds 25 million worth of illicit drugs, mainly heroin, from the Western area last year and arrested ten "core nominals" - its name for the nation's criminal elite. …