TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist and former Attorn…

TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist and former Attorney
General Bob Butterworth, joined by University Presidents T.K. Wetherell of
Florida State University and Monsignor Franklin Casale of St. Thomas
University, today announced a new online national clearinghouse and
research center to help in the fight against fraud and other economic

The Center for the Study of Economic Crimes, jointly operated by
FSU’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the St. Thomas
University School of Law, will help identify emerging trends in fraudulent
activity, promote enforcement strategies and conduct academic research into
the origins, patterns, effects and control of fraud. The Center will focus
on fraud and other economic crimes affecting consumers, business and
government with an emphasis on crimes that cross jurisdictional boundaries.
The Center’s initiatives include establishment of a new website,, to help
authorities fight fraud.

“Scam artists use the latest in technology to take advantage of
unsuspecting victims,” said Crist. “This website provides investigators
with a high-tech tool to fight back and regain the upper hand on behalf of
the citizens of our state.”

“Fraud artists routinely move from one state to another and jump from
one type of fraud to another,” said Butterworth, Dean of St. Thomas
University School of Law. “The Center will provide information-sharing
tools and a body of information to help monitor their patterns across
geographic and level-of-government jurisdictional lines.”

“Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal
Justice is proud to be involved in this vital project,” said Wetherell.
“With a long history as one of the most prominent criminology programs in
the country, this college is well suited to gather and analyze data that
will lead to the development of public policy aimed at eliminating the
critical social problem of consumer fraud. This is truly research brought
to life.”

The Center’s primary strategy includes three major initiatives:

– The launching of http://www.FraudUpdate.com, a web-based tracking
resource to highlight major cases and enforcement operations
nationally and throughout the English-speaking world. The website
also includes the latest alerts to help consumers and businesses
avoid being victimized by scams.

– Periodic national conferences for investigators, prosecuting
attorneys, corporate leaders, researchers and others to hear from
experts about emerging patterns of fraudulent activity and to explore
strategies for fighting it.

– Academic research into the phenomenon of fraud and related crimes,
pattern detection, victimization and public policy issues.

The Attorney General’s Office provided the initial funding for the
Center through a 2004 settlement with Sprint Communications that directed
$250,000 to FSU. Additional funding was provided by the St. Thomas
University Law School.

The Center’s internet-based information-sharing resource identifies
newly published news releases, alerts, settlements and related documents on
more than 300 government websites in near-real time. The system arranges
these documents by topic, region and state, intermixing state, federal and
international reports into a variety of channels. Full-text searching is
available. At any given time, the repository contains more than 10,000
documents covering the most recent 18 months of enforcement activity.

The Center’s first conference ? Economic Crime in the 21st Center:
Emerging Trends in Consumer Fraud and Strategies for Enforcement will
feature speakers with noteworthy experience and expertise in the field. It
is scheduled for March 17-18 at St. Thomas University in Miami. The Center
already has sponsored original research by FSU?s College of Criminology and
Criminal Justice, including a study entitled, Sociolegal change in
consumer fraud: From victim-offender interactions to global networks,
which is available on the website announced today.

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