McKenna's fight against online fraud called a model for other AGs

Chris Rizo Aug. 13, 2008, 7:00am

Rob McKenna (R)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna drew praise this week in a report by the Center for American Progress and the Center for Democracy and Technology for his fight against online fraud.

The groups' report, "Online Consumers at Risk and the Role of State Attorneys General," said the Republican attorney general is one of "the most aggressive online enforcers, setting an example for others to follow."

Ari Schwartz, vice president and chief operating officer at the Center for Democracy and Technology, called on attorneys general to step up their watch on cyberspace.

"Internet crime costs basically nothing to execute, can be highly lucrative, and involves little risk of being caught and punished," Schwartz said. "We need all 50 state attorneys general focused on this problem. Through committed action and vigorous enforcement, they can provide a powerful and much needed deterrent."

The Washington attorney general's office filed its first Internet-related lawsuit in 1998, and since then has cracked down on spammers and online scammers.

"The sword of justice can prevail in the virtual world," McKenna said in a statement. "Our Consumer Protection Division remains at the center of the cybercrime combat zone because we've strengthened our forces and armed ourselves with the best investigative tools and legislation."

Assistant Attorney General Paula Selis, who heads the office's Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit, said for McKenna's office, patrolling the Web is a No. 1 priority.

Calling online fraud "a huge threat to consumers as well as to the future of online commerce," Selis said her unit goes out and look for scams, in addition to responding to consumer complaints.

In 2005, state lawmakers approved an additional $1.6 million for the Consumer Protection Division, at the request of McKenna, to boost the office's efforts to fight cybercrime, among other things.

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