The International Criminal Police Organization, aka Interpol, has launched its 'global police Metaverse' as part of an effort to train members how to police in a virtual world.
Last week, Interpol unveiled what it says is the "the first ever Metaverse specifically designed for law enforcement worldwide." It says the "Interpol Metaverse" gives officers around the world the tools for cross-border knowledge sharing via avatars, and to take immersive training in forensic investigation and other policing activities.
Interpol has also created an expert group on the metaverse to represent law enforcement concerns about the new virtual world.
"Criminals are already starting to exploit the Metaverse," Interpol warned.
"As the number of Metaverse users grows and the technology further develops, the list of possible crimes will only expand to potentially include crimes against children, data theft, money laundering, financial fraud, counterfeiting, ransomware, phishing, and sexual assault and harassment," it said.
"For law enforcement, some of these threats are likely to present significant challenges, because not all acts that are criminalized in the physical world are considered crimes when committed in the virtual world," it warned.
The metaverse is in its early stages, but big tech companies are making plays now to be part of its fabric with VR headsets, software, content and environments. Beyond gaming and social networking, it has promise for virtual conferencing in business, design and testing processes, retail and, like the broader internet, crime.
"But in order for police to understand the Metaverse, we need to experience it."
According to Interpol, criminals are also starting to use the metaverse. The organization last week released its Global Crime Trend report, which shows that 70% of law enforcement officers from its 195 member countries expect ransomware and phishing attacks to grow over the next three to five years.
Law enforcement are also concerned about financial 'crime-as-a-service', such as digital money-laundering tools, but also business email compromise, CEO impersonation fraud, e-commerce scams and investment fraud.
"For many, the Metaverse seems to herald an abstract future, but the issues it raises are those that have always motivated Interpol – supporting our member countries to fight crime and making the world, virtual or not, safer for those who inhabit it," said Interpol secretary, General Jürgen Stock.