According to a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office press release, the New York County District Attorney has announced the formation of another “new” bureau. District Attorney Vance’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau technically ratchets up the current Identity Theft Unit to formally add the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime. In reality, many of the prosecutors assigned to the Major Case Section of the Identity Theft Unit had already been investigating and prosecuting these crimes. However, District Attorney Vance is taking the necessary steps to expand the unit into a bureau. Additionally, District Attorney Vance is increasing the number of prosecutors who will “specialize” in this area while further training them in this dynamic area of criminality and law.
From the perspective of law enforcement, a bureau such as this is a much needed arm of the District Attorney’s Office. The original unit, founded by two outstanding attorneys and prosecutors no longer with the office, was on the forefront of cybercrime and identity theft investigations when it was created in 2004. Having been one of the original prosecutors assigned to the Identity Theft Unit and the Major Case Section upon their respective creations, I not only learned from these two prosecutors and obtained training in forensics and the investigation of computer crimes, but witnessed firsthand the ease by which these crimes were perpetrated and the creativity of those who sought to benefit from this criminality. The transition of this unit into the new bureau not only displays District Attorney Vance’s recognition of the magnitude of these types of crimes, but is a testament to the dedication, work and efforts of the two founders of the unit as well as those currently working there, to bring the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office into the new era of identity theft and cybercrime investigations.
As a criminal defense attorney in New York with extensive experience in these types of crimes, I recognize I will have an adversarial role with the bureau representing my clients and zealously advocating for them regardless of the fraud they stand accused of. Despite this adversarial relationship, from the perspective of an everyday New Yorker, I also acknowledge that District Attorney Vance is doing a service to Manhattan and beyond by taking the old unit into the next generation of cybercrime and identity theft investigations.