A new online clearinghouse and research center designed to help the fight against fraud opened Monday, sponsored by Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., and St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla.

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 trends in fraudulent activity and promote enforcement strategies and research into fraud, according to Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, whose office announced the development Monday.

The center includes a Web site, http://www.FraudUpdate.com, with special pages devoted to mortgage 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, according to Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, whose office announced the development Monday.

“Fraud artists routinely move from one state to another and jump from one type of fraud to another,” said Former Florida Attorney General Bob 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.”

The Center’s primary strategy includes three major initiatives: the Web site, periodic national conferences for investigators, prosecuting attorneys, corporate leaders, researchers and others, and academic research into fraud.

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. The St. Thomas University Law School provided additional funding.

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