The National White Collar Crime Center: A Leader in the Prevention, Investigation, and Prosecution of Economic and High-Tech Crime
For more than three decades, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), through the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), has worked to support state, local, and tribal (SLT) law enforcement’s efforts to prevent, investigate, and prosecute economic and high-tech crime. NW3C strengthens this mission by staying current with technological innovations and working to keep law enforcement up-to-date. NW3C is a nonprofit, membership-affiliated organization comprised of SLT law enforcement and prosecutorial and regulatory agencies. Its work is funded primarily by grants through congressional appropriations from BJA and other federal agencies. NW3C supports law enforcement through several avenues; training, research, investigative support, and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3®).
- Training: Annually, NW3C delivers training to thousands of law enforcement professionals across the country in the areas of computer forensics, cybercrime investigations, financial crime investigations, and intelligence analysis. Within the past five years, nearly 36,000 law enforcement professionals have received training from NW3C.
- Research: In the research arena, NW3C produces original research on all facets of white collar crime to support training and assist law enforcement. The research is geared to a variety of audiences, from citizens to law enforcement to policy makers. The research section produces original briefs, whitepapers, and research studies.
- Investigative Support: NW3C’s Investigative Support section works behind the scenes to help member agencies fight white collar crime by providing public database searches, analytical assistance, and a forum for intelligence sharing. Case support to law enforcement over the last five years has helped lead to more than 4,000 months of criminal sentences and $70.7 million in restitution.
- IC3: IC3 is an initiative between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, BJA, and NW3C. IC3.gov provides the public with a method of filing Internet crime complaints online.
In addition to these services, NW3C publishes documents and information, such as The Briefing, a monthly online newsletter. These publications feature case highlights, training information, trends in high-tech and economic crime, and special features to support the detection, investigation, and prosecution of white collar crimes.
Success Stories from NW3C Trainings
The Intellectual Property (IP) Theft training is a collaborative effort between NW3C and the National Association of Attorneys General. Throughout the training, students learn the health and safety issues resulting from counterfeit products; economic ramifications of IP crime; investigative techniques; prosecutorial theories; and IP crime connection to organized crime, gangs, and terrorism. Students gain this expertise through the use of hands-on exercises and exposure to “real” examples of counterfeit products. The Baltimore County Police Department exemplifies a model outcome for the IP Theft training – having already begun to incorporate the knowledge gained from NW3C’s IP Theft training. Using this newfound knowledge, the Baltimore County Police Department conducted a large-scale investigation of vendors at a local flea market. As a result, the Economic Crimes Unit served 16 search warrants, which led to the confiscation of $1.5 million worth of counterfeit merchandise and pending charges against 19 individuals in the case. Another class offered by NW3C – the Basic Data Recovery and Acquisition (BDRA) course – is a three-day course that teaches not only the fundamentals of computer operations and hardware function, but also how to protect, preserve, and image digital evidence. The course includes presentations and hands-on instruction on topics including partitioning, data storage, hardware and software write blockers, the boot up and shutdown processes, live imaging, encryption detection, and duplicate imaging best practices. Ronald Bianchi, a detective with the Johnston Police Department assigned to the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit, also exemplified a NW3C training success when he used the skills he acquired from the BDRA class in the investigation and arrest of a Providence, RI, woman accused of producing and disseminating child pornography. Although Bianchi had been working on the investigation prior to taking the class, he was able to leverage the skills acquired through BDRA to strengthen his work. Upon completion of the class, he spent 10 days using a commercial digital forensic science tool that helps examiners acquire data from devices, use disk level forensic analysis to discover evidence, and create reports on their findings. This new approach allowed Bianchi to obtain evidence that ultimately led to the arrest. “I don’t think I would have been able to work my case without the instruction in BDRA,” Bianchi says. For more information on NW3C’s services or to register for training, visit www.nw3c.org. To submit the work of your organization or jurisdiction for consideration to be featured in a future TTA Spotlight, please email BJANTTAC@ojp.usdoj.gov.