Questions on Modern Crime

Posted on October 20, 2018

I recently finished a series of non-fiction books about the criminal underground, Illicit by Moises Naim, Future Crimes by Marc Goodman, and Narconomics by Tom Wainwright. All three books were very good reads into various aspects of crime, from traditional international smuggling to Ukrainian Hackers CaaS to Mexican narcotraficante CSR.

All the books hammered on the point that modern crime increasingly looks like a 21st business, and as such acts like one. It was interesting to learn that apparently Mexican drug cartels, like American corporations, are big into CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in regions which they control.

Other interesting points in all books is the use of technology to facilitate crime, such as buying and selling goods with Bitcoin and lately Monero. Future Crimes and the coining the phrase CaaS (Crime as a Service) was an interesting take on the corporatization of crime.

Future Crimes and the parts of Narconomics focused on technology made me wonder about how much technology is used in crime. Many times in shows like Narcos, there is always a scene where some drug accountant is seen managing large amounts of illicit goods/cash, with only a pen and pills of paper. However, as it is 2018, and some people buy drugs and do crime online, a modernization of the criminal tech stack must of occurred.

This leads to some open questions that might be interesting to look into

  1. To what extent have illegal bookkeeping modernized? Do they use Excel? Do they use some SF style SaaS software to manage their books?

  2. What does a illegal software developer look like? What would software designed for illicit usage look like? What tools do these developers use? Do they also complain that their MongoDB database broke and they lost all their data?

  3. Considering that criminal enterprises are corporate style now, what are other examples of criminal groups performing CSR? The CSR a narcotraficante preforms must be different from the CSR of a Golden Triangle human trafficker or the Taliban growing opium.

  4. What would a Porters 5 forces model for a 21st-century criminal enterprise look like? What would a CAGE framework look like as well?

  5. Considering how Silk Road and dark net markets via cryptocurrencies and reputation systems made it easier than ever to buy illegal services online? What will the future of illegal e-commerce look like? Does the Stripe off illegal e-commerce already exist, or to butch Voltaire, will it be necessary for someone to create it?

  6. Related to this, what will various Etherum dapps be modified to fit a dark web context? What will happen when some cypherpunk modifies Auger to work effectively on the dark web? What if this is already the case, but we did not hear about it, because unlike a good portion of the crypto scene, they decided not to talk?

  7. What will the rise of privacy coins have on dark web trade? Zcash is already edging on Monero for usage on the dark web because of Zcashs privacy features but who will win? Will Grin and the mysterious MimbleWimble protocol become a part of darknet trade?

Who knows? I suspect the journey and the answers to these questions would be worth a book, or at least a thorough investigation.