Even high-profile politicians get cyber-robbed

even-high-profile-politicians-get-cyber-robbed
Cy Vance demonstrates an ATM-card skimmer. (Dana Rubinstein)
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Someone had the audacity to use the American Express card belonging to Kim Catullo, Council Speaker Christine Quinn's wife, and buy one-way tickets to London and Abu Dhabi.

Today, Quinn called the internet “the new crime scene of the modern age.”

Another intrepid thief used Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's credit card to underwrite three trips to Dunkin' Donuts and one to Trader Joe's.

"I go to Dunkin' Donuts, but I've never used my credit card," said Vance.

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Today, Quinn and Vance summoned the press to the Red Room in City Hall to tout $4.2 million in City Council funding for the construction of a special room in which the Manhattan D.A.'s cybercrime unit will be consolidated.

Among other things, the money allows the D.A. to move its 50-plus-person cyber-crime team into one lab with special walls that block cell phone service.

Right now, when forensic investigators analyze cell phones, they must do so under a hood that blocks cell service, so as to preserve the integrity of the data contained therein. In the new room, those hoods will no longer be necessary.

Vance called the contribution a "critical step" toward the completion of a state-of-the-art cyberlab by the end of next year.

“I think we still need funding to be completed for equipment and that is a work in process," he added, though he declined to say how much more funding was needed.

“We’re in a battle that is going to be a long-term battle,” said Vance. “And it is a battle that is going to require us to continue to devote more resources, new resources, new training, but there is no option.”

Right now, Manhattan has ten assistant district attorneys working full-time on international and large-scale cyber-crime cases, as well as more than 70 assistant D.A.s dealing with the more than 200 identity theft cases that come in per month via street arrests.

Vance estimates that cyber crimes and identity thefts have increased "probably 50 percent" in the past five years in Manhattan, alone.

Certainly, the politicians at the press conference had a surfeit of tales to share. 

For example, Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer has her checking account hacked into.

"And I remember seeing all of a sudden checks that I never wrote," she said.

Brewer decided to hunt down the cyber thief on her own.

"So I went up to the Bronx to see if I can find her," said Brewer. "It was a fake address, needless to say."

And then there was Upper Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson.

"I got an urgent message at 3:44 this morning, basically saying—from someone that I knew!—'urgent,'" he said. And I thought 'Maybe, oh my gosh. His father is ill. Something happened to his father.' No. It was a message, 'I’m in Europe and I’m stuck, and this, that and the other, please send money.' And obviously, as Gale said, when we see those now, we just delete, delete, delete. But I opened it because I thought maybe something was wrong with his dad, who is very ill. That was not the case. "