Police chiefs discuss cybercrime at national conference

There’s no easy way to figure out how many Prince Albert area residents lose money to internet scams.

One woman told the Better Business Bureau about a romance scheme, where a Ghanian man defrauded her sister of thousands. There are Facebook posts about a fake Canada Revenue Agency website, and fraudulent ticket sellers on kijiji.com.

Police Chief Troy Cooper said he’s heard estimates that cybercrime is now as common as “all other types of crime put together.” Criminals are moving online, and cops have to follow them.

That was the thrust of the last week’s Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Montreal, where Police Chief Troy Cooper joined more than 400 senior law enforcement officers to hash out the future of policing.

The conference was entitled “Policing in a Digital Society.” Cooper said delegates discussed ways to keep up with the latest technology, and got an update on the government’s marijuana legalization roll-out.

But the big-ticket item was cybercrime.

“Right now we don’t even know how much cybercrime we have in Canada because there’s no proper analysis, no data gathering,” Cooper said. “We are trying to lobby for a central point of reporting.”

The chiefs want to see a centralized system for individuals and businesses to report scams, hacking and other nefarious online activity. The reports would then be analyzed for trends and sent back to the appropriate police services.

Cooper said the conference discussed what works elsewhere, particularly in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Above all else, he said, police have to do a better job of reaching victims.

“There’s tonnes of cyber crime reported in Prince Albert,” he said, “and there’s tonnes that’s not reported. We know that there is no proper mechanism for investigating that kind of crime.”

Cooper said his officers do their best to record cybercrime and pass it on to national investigative bodies. Locally, they focus on education – getting out the word about common scams. But tracking down cybercriminals is beyond the capacity of a mid-sized police force, he suggested. That’s why he supports the push for a Canada-wide solution.

For more on this story, see the July 26 edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.