International organised criminal networks are already preparing to target the London 2012 Olympics, a senior police officer warned today.
Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams said officers are probing a series of front companies that could be used in complex frauds.
Ms Williams, who is responsible for leading the fight against electronic crime, said the multi-billion pound sporting extravaganza is a tempting target for criminals.
She said officials saw similar conspiracies during the Beijing Olympics and work is under way to protect the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Speaking in Manchester today, she said: "There is a lot of work to be done with e-crime and the Olympics. First of all we need to get the money sorted and there is an imperative about that now.
"We know from Canada and Beijing that the threats are real and they have grown in the last six months."
Ms Williams said criminals may be preparing sophisticated electronic attacks on athlete protection arrangements, the transport infrastructure, sponsorship deals and ticketing.
She added: "These are all potentially subject to abuses and we need to understand these and put plans in place very quickly now.
"That is a projected area of work and it is where e-crime meets the more significant threats and terrorism threats."
Ms Williams, a senior officer in the Met's specialist crime wing, was speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) annual conference.
She said the Met has established a specialist team to examine the threat of electronic and internet attacks on the 2012 Olympic Games.
Investigators need "to move from business as usual to an extra amount of effort" as the Games come closer, she added.
Ms Williams said: "We will need some extra money to do this which we hope that the Home Office will give to e-crime.
"We are starting to see some precursor activity, we are starting to see companies being set up in what we believe are false names in anticipation of fraud and other types of criminal activity during the run up to the Olympics."
Ms Williams warned that cyber criminals are determined, sophisticated and flourishing as police continue to grapple with the difficulties of tackling internet crime.
She said networks have targeted London hospitals, police forces and major private companies, including well-known online shops, in recent months.
Ms Williams said: "Very recently we have had three London hospitals badly affected, that was identified as computer viruses overloading the systems.
"We have had police forces who have lost considerable parts of their capability for considerable periods of time and we have had attacks that have stopped other public services."
The conference meeting heard three million online crimes take place in Britain every year, about one every 10 seconds.
This story was sourced from The Belfast Telegraph.