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U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force - We Need You to Join Us!
by Jack Wiles

And we really mean it! There are eight new United States Secret Service (USSS) 
Electronic Crimes Task Force branches being formed throughout the country, and if you 
live in the USA, one of them is probably close enough for you to get involved. Now 
more than ever, we need to work together to help prevent and prosecute the 
ever-growing threat of electronic crimes.

I've been doing things with the U.S. Secret Service for many years now, and this is 
the most ambitious outreach program that I've seen so far. Over the years, a number of 
people have asked me about the perceived danger of having everything that we say to 
them turned into the proverbial 'federal case.' I can honestly say that I have never 
seen or personally heard of that happening. Not one single person that I know of has 
ever had their computer(s) seized or even been inconvenienced as a result of trying to 
do some things to help or even asking for help. This is a group that does a lot more 
to help prevent, or when necessary convict and hopefully bring to prosecution, these 
new crimes that are impacting just about everything that we do.

Top Down Commitment

It all started at the USSS field office in New York through the vision of one man, 
Special Agent Bob Weaver. Since he started the Task Force in 1995, it has grown to 
include 45 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, 100 private companies 
and 12 universities. The NY ecTaskForce has always met in New York, and attendees at 
these meetings have traveled from just about every state in the country to get there. 
At the November 2001 meeting, it is reported that over 450 members were in attendance. 
Our company had recently joined the task force, and this was the first meeting that we 
attended in New York. My partner at TheTrainingCo., Don Withers made the trip the day 
before the meeting as did most who attended. It's quite a commitment to do that, and 
most of the 450 who attended made the same commitment of time and travel expense to 
get there.

He came away feeling that he had played an important role (as did everyone who 
attended) in a grassroots level meeting where every attendee was there to learn, share 
information and network. There were some very powerful people there from law 
enforcement, industry and academia, but at the meeting, they were all on a first name 
basis and wanting to help each other.

My partner's experience was a perfect example of this. When you sit down at the 
beginning of a meeting with 450 strangers, you wind up sitting next to at least one 
new friend and unless you're on the end of an aisle, you will get to know at least two 
new friends just by sitting next to them all day long. One of the attendees who was 
sitting next to my partner was Special Agent Brian Stafford of the Secret Service. It 
wasn't unusual to be sitting next to a Secret Service agent at a meeting being hosted 
by them. It was unusual to be sitting next to the director of the entire Secret 
Service. That has been Mr. Stafford's job since March 4, 1999.

Having someone from the very top of any organization attend a day-long meeting of any 
kind shows us that this is something that senior management has taken very seriously. 
The Secret Service is obviously very busy these days with the protection side of their 
duties as well as a number of other things on the electronic crimes side of their 
shop. Needless to say, we were all impressed to have Mr. Stafford send the message of 
how important this task force is to him.

Where Are the Regional Task Forces Located?

Eight cities, including the founding city of New York, have been selected to begin 
regional branches of the Electronic Crimes Task Force. As the task force grows, I'm 
sure that more cities will be added. Here are the cities where you can find them:

Boston, Massachusetts
Charlotte, North Carolina
Chicago, Illinois
Las Vegas, Nevada
Miami, Florida
New York, New York
San Francisco, California
Washington, DC

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