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  • Writer's pictureKevin Osborne

Cyber Crime Affects Everyone

This post relates to the following MCLE event, hosted by EKO and the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center at Santa Clara Law on September 18, 2023:

Digital Crimes Affecting Low Income Communities

Held virtually over Zoom

12:00-1:00 p.m.

1 hr. CLE Credit (materials below)

In 2020, a man called us because he was having a problem with his online investment account. He explained that he wasn't a "high roller" (his words). He only had a few thousand dollars in the account, what was left of his year-end bonus after paying off some bills. But a few days prior, the entire balance of his account had vanished.

He realized something was wrong when he saw a pop-up message on his phone on his way to work. "Congratulations!" it said, "you made a trade." But he hadn't made any trades in weeks. By the time he got to work, there were several more pup-ups congratulating him for things he didn't do. Someone had broken into the account, sold all his stocks, linked a new bank card, and withdrawn nearly every cent.

What happened to our caller was an account take over. "ATOs" are just one of the countless criminal frauds perpetrated by cyber criminals using information found (or stolen) on the net. While our caller felt pretty helpless by the time he called us, he had options. There are three main ways to fight cyber crime:

  1. Arrest the criminals.

  2. Take away the tools criminals use.

  3. Educate the public to protect themselves.

On Monday, September 18, 2023, EKO and the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center at Santa Clara Law hosted a panel discussion about how we, as lawyers, can do all three.

The panel's first speaker, Erin West, is a criminal prosecutor with the Santa Clara County DA's Office. She is also a member of the super-innovative REACT task force, where criminal prosecutors and agencies from local, state, and federal government have partnered with industry to fight cyber crime. Put simply, she gets bad guys. She is also on a mission to educate everybody (EVERYBODY) about a type of online romance investment scam known as "pig-butchering." To learn more, read this article from the Wall Street Journal detailing her work shining the light on this travesty.

The second panelist is Scott Mauer. Mr. Mauer is a life-long consumer advocate. For almost 30 years, he has fought for low-income consumers who have been scammed out of their hard-earned money. He is now the director of the Community Law Center's Consumer Law Clinic and represents its clients in consumer protection cases. When regular folks are the victims of theft, he goes after the banks, brokers, and companies that let it happen.

Back to our caller. After we got off the phone, we did a deeper dive. It turned out he was not the only one whose account had been taken over. In January 2021, EKO filed a class action on behalf of all the investors who lost their funds. It turned out to be over 40,000 people. (Read more about the case here). The lesson is this: there are laws and lawyers who are working to help get victims of cyber crime what's theirs.

If you'd like to know more, contact us.

EKO is a private class-action firm with public interest. Fighting plaintiff-side for consumer protection cases, privacy and cybersecurity breaches, worker’s rights violations, financial fraud, crypto schemes, and sexual abuse, EKO is a force for good, here to represent.

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