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CYBER CRIME

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Attorney General’s new investigators will concentrate on stalkers, scams

By Bob White

By BOB WHITE

bwhite@thenewsenterprise.com

FRANKFORT – Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced Thursday the creation of a new division in his office focused on combating cyber crimes ranging from online stalkers to scam artists.

Six investigators will make up the new Cybercrimes Division of the Attorney General’s office.

The employment was a challenge during lean times in Frankfort. Conway’s office said the new division was put together under a reorganization of his office which trimmed unnecessary costs from the budget.

The new unit is the fruition of one of Conway’s campaign promises to combat online sexual predators and crack down on scammers using the Web to seduce people with false promises of big payouts from foreign lotteries and bogus inheritances.

Elizabethtown Police Department spokesman Virgil Willoughby said the department’s primary crimes against children detective, Kelly Slone, often employs the help of cyber crime detectives such as those comprising Conway’s new division.

Other local law enforcement agencies were unsure what, if any, help the new division will be able to provide. Kentucky State Police has its own cyber-crime investigators now working in Frankfort, according to Post 4 spokesman Steve Pavey.

Hardin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Greg Lowe said his agency generally leans on KSP for help with investigations into Web-based child pornography cases.

Along with investigating cases, the Cybercrimes Division will train local law enforcement agencies throughout the state on how to process computer and digital forensic evidence.

Conway announced the new division during a visit to a Frankfort elementary school.

The division is the latest initiative against Web-based crime taken on by Conway. He’s also joined other attorneys general throughout the nation to create federal laws making Internet social networking sites safer, including Facebook and MySpace.

While in the legislature, Conway co-sponsored the omnibus cyber-safety bill, House Bill 367, this year. It would have made it a crime for sex offenders to use online social networking sites as stalking grounds for potential victims.

Allison Gardner Martin, a Conway spokeswoman, said the bill stalled in the Senate, but will be prefiled next year and she is optimistic it will become law.

“We are focused on Internet safety,” Martin said.

Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750. The Associated Press contributed to this story.