California has become a major U.S. target of cyber crimes committed by outlaw groups with ties to Eastern Europe, China and Africa, says state Attorney General Kamala Harris. She said about 17 percent of attempts to hack into major computer networks in the U.S. in 2012 were aimed at California, the most populous U.S. state, Reuters reports. “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 addition to computer crimes, a report from Harris 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 U.S. 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 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.