U.S. attorney discusses cybercrime

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Photo by Sarah Sullivan.

David Fein spends his days hunting down cyber fraudsters.

Fein, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, came to Yale to discuss the federal government’s role in cyber security, financial fraud and criminal cases Monday afternoon. The talk was organized by the Yale Undergraduate Law Review as a launch event and took place in William L. Harkness Hall, drawing about 20 students eager to hear Fein speak.

Like most of the other U.S. Attorneys appointed by the Obama administration, Fein said, he worked as a federal prosecutor before being tapped for his current position. Fein said he alternated between the public and private sectors before his appointment as U.S. Attorney, and the experience prepared him well for the duties that post entails.

In his current job, Fein added, he prosecutes cases that involve the enforcement of federal criminal law — namely cases of cybercrime, child exploitation and more recently, civil rights cases.

Fein said the most difficult cases he handles are those that involve financial fraud.

“Some senior citizens lose most if not all of their life savings to fraudsters, and it’s heartbreaking.” Fein said. “More often than not, the money that was stolen from these people has been lost or spent, but sometimes we are able to restitute something to the victims.”

The cases are some of his most difficult, Fein said, but also some of the most interesting.

Fein described being a U.S. Attorney as a job that is “fascinating, challenging and really worth its while.” Among these challenges, Fein said, are international cybercrimes.

Though a lot of international cooperation is required to capture criminals who commit these cybercrimes, countries that are friendly to the United States usually are very helpful in assisting in the capture and prosecution of these criminals.

Students said Fein was engaging and knowledgeable about matters ranging from U.S. policy to international law.

Cameron Rotblat ’13 said while the talk was enlightening, he was more interested in hearing about the role of a U.S. Attorney and he left the talk with a better understanding of international law as it relates to cyber security.

“Some of the explanations he gave as to why child exploitation is one of the biggest cases he dealt with definitely made sense,” he said. “While I didn’t know [about it] before, I am not particularly surprised.”

Fein also mentioned that some of his assistant attorneys have a tough time dealing with some of the child exploitation cases because they tend to be graphic and emotionally disturbing.

Though Fein was a lecturer at the Yale Law School prior to his appointment as U.S. Attorney, White House guidelines prohibit him from taking up any other position during his tenure. Prior to his nomination, Fein co-taught a class with Professor Kate Stith at the Yale Law School entitled “Federal Criminal Prosecution.”

The most recent edition of the Yale Undergraduate Law Review features an interview with Fein.

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