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Computer Crimes and Child Exploitation Unit

The Computer Crimes and Child Exploitation Unit operates within the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri.

The Computer Crimes and Child Exploitation Unit prosecutes a broad range of computer-related crimes. The unit was created in the spring of 2002 by United States Attorney Todd P. Graves and consists of four prosecutors, one paralegal and one secretary. The broad range of work undertaken by the unit causes its members to work closely with many local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In addition to these partnerships, the unit works closely with the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), specialized components in the Department of Justice with expertise in the types of cases pursued by the unit.

One prosecutor in the unit focuses exclusively on cases involving the sexual exploitation of children. The investigation and prosecution of such cases is a high priority in the district. The unit aggressively pursues those who use the Internet to sexually coerce or entice children and those who possess, produce or distribute child pornography. The unit also prosecutes those who travel interstate to sexually abuse children or women; those who abuse women or children on federal lands; and those who sell, buy or transport women and children interstate or internationally for the purpose of engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

The unit also handles computer intrusions, copyright and trademark violations, theft of trade secrets, economic espionage, and Internet fraud. Computer intrusion or "hacking" cases typically involve matters such as unauthorized access to computer systems by employees, attacks resulting in service outages, system penetrations by outsiders, theft of proprietary information, and sabotage of data or networks. These cases include intrusions into commercial or private computer systems as well as government computer systems where sensitive or national security information may be compromised.

One of the most serious problems threatening high technology companies is the loss of intellectual property. The unit pursues copyright violations that relate to computer software, recorded music, and video piracy; trademark violations involving counterfeiting or unauthorized use of brand name goods; as well as general instances of economic espionage and the theft of trade secrets. Finally, the unit also undertakes cases involving major Internet fraud schemes, including auction fraud, investment fraud, and other Internet based frauds which are becoming an ever increasing problem that affects a growing number of victims.

Many victims of computer intrusions and intellectual property offenses are reluctant to refer their cases to law enforcement. One important component of the work undertaken by the unit is to build partnerships and trust with the high-tech community and reduce this reluctance. These partnerships also play a key role in encouraging the adoption of prevention measures, such as increased computer security, the development of adequate firewalls, information sharing, and the like. Engaging and encouraging industry to adopt appropriate preventive measures is as important a part of the work of the unit as the cases it prosecutes. By helping to identify trends and vulnerabilities, the unit hopes to develop effective law enforcement responses before an exploitation occurs, and thereby help prevent intrusions rather than simply react to them when they do occur.

To contact the Computer Crimes and Child Exploitation Unit, call 1-800-733-6558, or locally in Kansas City call 816-426-3122.