Federal cybercrime cases in DC can get very complicated and messy with respect to the government department that is involved during an investigation. Paired with the difficulties in determining a perpetrator, cybercrime cases can often undergo lengthy and extensive investigations. A DC federal cybercrimes lawyer can help someone navigate the cumbersome investigation process and explain certain aspects to someone who might be otherwise unaware. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.
Typically, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department (if government databases are breached), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and potentially the Department of Labor or the Internal Revenue Service can be involved as well. If a particular government agency has their database breached, then its Inspector General’s Office would become involved.
Law enforcement agencies can get involved in investigating spam-related schemes, for instance, but it depends on specifically what the spam-related issue is. If the alleged scheme is trying to defraud people, then sometimes the Federal Trade Commission will get involved. In addition, potentially the Securities and Exchange Commission could get involved, as well as more traditional law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.
There is very often an investigation before the arrest takes place, because it is sometimes difficult to determine who is in fact propagating a cybercrime. On the internet people are trying to hide their identities, so sometimes it takes a bit of time and effort before someone is prosecuted.
Law enforcement agents use a variety of tactics when they believe that laws are being broken. They range from monitoring the internet and chat rooms to using forensic tools to search for IP addresses to trace back to particular people. They also conduct online, undercover operations where an agent will pose as someone online in an attempt to infiltrate an online business suspected of doing something illegal, or try to get into a protected chat room or a protected site. Those are typically the types of techniques that are used.
It depends on the situation, but they usually tend to run a little longer than the average federal law enforcement investigation because it takes time to put together and analyze the information gathered online.
Specifically, agents will be looking for evidence showing something illegal is going on and that will tie that illegal activity to a specific person or group of people. For example, in a child pornography context, agents will be looking for digital images with specific metadata attached that is commonly associated with child pornography. Once they see that they will try to trace it back to a particular IP address. Once they have a particular IP address which they can tie these images back to, they will do more traditional investigation using subpoenas or other techniques to figure out to whom the IP address belongs.
It depends on the investigation. Sometimes agents will find an IP address linked to a particular person simply by contacting the internet service provider. The agents can then use that to obtain a search warrant and possibly catch somebody actually using the computer at the time they enter the computer’s location. Sometimes agents will get information about an IP address and they will initiate an undercover operation to try to make contact with the person they believe is using or connected to the IP address as a way of determining that person’s identity. Then they will try to lure that person to a location where they can be arrested. There are a variety of ways that law enforcement may go about getting information about the IP address and then linking that user to the IP address.