California major target for cyber-criminals, attorney general says
By Laila Kearney
SAN FRANCISCO, March 20 (Reuters) - California has become a major U.S. target of cyber crimes committed by outlaw groups with ties to Eastern Europe, China and Africa, according to a report by state Attorney General Kamala Harris released on Thursday.
As part of a broader report on international organized crime groups, Harris said about 17 percent of attempts to hack into major computer networks in the United States in 2012 were aimed at California, which is the most populous U.S. state.
"Transnational criminal organizations are relying increasingly on cybercrime as a source of funds - which means they are frequently targeting, and illicitly using, the digital tools and content developed in our state," Harris said in a statement attached to the 97-page report.
In addition to computer crimes, Harris's report detailed activities of international organized crime groups including human trafficking and drug smuggling, along with classic scams.
Many groups are organized along ethnic lines, with ringleaders often outside the United States and foot soldiers and victims in immigrant communities in the country, it said.
"The growth of transnational criminal organizations seriously threatens California's safety and economic well-being," said Harris, who plans to lead a series of meetings in Mexico next week to discuss the problem.
Criminal groups with ties to the former Soviet Union and Central Europe run gangs throughout California, including the Armenian Power gang, which has links to cyber-crime, financial fraud, identity theft gambling, narcotics and human trafficking, the report said.
More than two-thirds of methamphetamine imported into the United States comes through California from Mexico, trafficked by international gangs, Harris said. Continuación...