Advertisement

Criminal networks in a digitised world: on the nexus of borderless opportunities and local embeddedness

  • E. Rutger LeukfeldtEmail author
  • Edward R. Kleemans
  • Edwin W. Kruisbergen
  • Robert A. Roks
Article

Abstract

This article presents the results of empirical analyses of the use of information technology (IT) by organized crime groups. In particular, it explores how the use of IT affects the processes of origin and growth of criminal networks. The empirical data presented in this article consist of 30 large scale criminal investigations into organized crime, including traditional organized crime, traditional organized crime in which IT is an innovative element, low tech cybercrimes and high tech cybercrimes. Networks involved in cybercrimes or traditional crimes with an innovative IT element can be characterized as a mixture of old school criminals that have a long criminal career, and a limited number of technically skilled members. Furthermore, almost all cases have a local dimension. Also the cybercrime cases. Dutch sellers of drugs on online marketplace, for example, mainly work for customers in the Netherlands and surrounding countries.

Keywords

Organised crime Cybercrime Cryptomarket Criminal network 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

E. Rutger Leukfeldt declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Edward R. Kleemans declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Edwin W. Kruisbergen declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Robert A. Roks declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. For the analysis of criminal investigations, permission has been granted by the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service.

References

  1. Ablon, L., Libicki, M.C., & Golay, A.A. (2014). Markets for cybercrime tools and stolen data. Hackers’ Bazaar. RAND: www.rand.org
  2. Albini JL (1971) The American mafia: genesis of a legend. Appleton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Bichler G, Malm A, Cooper T (2017) Drug supply networks: a systematic review of the organizational structure of illicit drug trade. Crime Sci 6(2).  https://doi.org/10.1186/s40163-017-0063-3
  4. Bijlenga, N., & Kleemans, E.R. (2017). European Journal of Criminal Policy and research,  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10610-017-9356-z
  5. Bouchard M, Morselli C (2014) Opportunistic structures of organized crime. In: Paoli L (ed) The Oxford handbook of organized crime. Oxford University Press, Oxford / New York, pp 288–302Google Scholar
  6. Broadhurst R, Grabosky P, Alazab M, Chon S (2014) Organizations and cyber crime: an analysis of the nature of groups engaged in cyber crime. Int J Cyber Criminol 8(1):1–20Google Scholar
  7. Bulanova-Hristova, G., & Kasper, K., (2016). Cyber-OC in Germany. In G. Bulanova-Hristova, K. Kasper, G. Odinot, M. Verhoeven, R. Pool, C. de Poot, W. Werner, & L. Korsell (red), Cyber-OC - Scope and manifestations in selected EU member states (p. 165–220). Wiesbaden: BundeskriminalamtGoogle Scholar
  8. Bulanova-Hristova, G., Kasper, K., Odinot, G., Verhoeven, M., Pool, R., de Poot, C., Werner, W., & Korsell, L. (Eds.) (2016). Cyber-OC - scope and manifestations in selected EU member states. Wiesbaden: BundeskriminalamtGoogle Scholar
  9. Burt RS (1992) Structural holes. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Chu, B., Holt, T.J., & Ahn, G.J. (2010). Examining the creation, distribution, and function of malware on-line. Technical Report for National Institute of Justice. NIJ Grant No. 2007-IJ-CX-0018.Available at http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/230112.pdf
  11. Cressey DR (1969) Theft of the nation: the structure and operations of organized crime in America. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Décary-Hétu D, Dupont B (2012) The social network of hackers. Global Crime 13(3):160–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Décary-Hétu D, Dupont B (2013) Reputation in a dark network of online criminals. Global Crime 14(2–3):175–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Décary-Hétu D, Morselli C, Leman-Langlois S (2012) Welcome to the scene: a study of social organization and recognition among Warez hackers. J Res Crime Delinq 49(3):359–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dupont B, Côté AM, Savine C, Décary-Hétu D (2016) The ecology of trust among hackers. Global Crime 17(2):129–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Edwards A, Levi M (2008) Researching the Organization of Serious Crimes. Criminol Crim Just 8(4):363–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. European Police Office (2016). Internet organised crime threat assessment (IOCTA) 2016. Den Haag: European police officeGoogle Scholar
  18. Felson M (2003) The process of co-offending. In: Smith MJ, Cornish DB (eds) Theory for practice in situational crime prevention (volume 16). Willan Publishing, Devon, pp 149–168Google Scholar
  19. Felson, M. (2006). The ecosystem for organized crime (HEUNI paper no. 26). Helsinki: HEUNIGoogle Scholar
  20. Grabosky P (2007) The internet, technology, and organized crime. Asian Criminology 2(2):145–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Holt TJ (2013) Exploring the social organisation and structure of stolen data markets. Global Crime 14(2–3):155–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Holt TJ, Kilger M (2008) Techcrafters and Makecrafters: a comparison of two populations of hackers. Wistdcs, p.67-78. In: 2008 WOMBAT workshop on information security threats data collection and sharingGoogle Scholar
  23. Holt JT, Lampke E (2010) Exploring stolen data markets online: products and market forces. Crim Justice Stud 23(1):33–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Holt TJ, Smirnova O (2014) Examining the structure, organization, and processes of the international market for stolen data. U.S. Department of Justice, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  25. Holt TJ, Strumsky D, Smirnova O, Kilger M (2012) Examining the social networks of malware writers and hackers. International Journal of Cyber Criminology (IJCC) 6(1):891–903Google Scholar
  26. Holt TJ, Smirnova O, Chua YT, Copes H (2015) Examining the risk reduction strategies of actors in online criminal markets. Global Crime 16(2):81–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hutchings A (2014) Crime from the keyboard: organised cybercrime, co-offending, initiation and knowledge transmission. Crime Law Soc Chang 62(1):1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hutchings A, Holt TJ (2015) A crime script analysis of the online stolen data market. Br J Criminol 55(3):596–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ianni FAJ, Reuss-Ianni E (1972) A family business: kinship and social control in organized crime. Routledge and Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Kleemans ER (2014) Organized crime research: Challenging assumptions and informing policy. In: Knutsson J, Cockbain E (eds) Applied police research: challenges and opportunities. crime science series. Willan, CullomptonGoogle Scholar
  31. Kleemans ER, de Poot CJ (2008) Criminal careers in organized crime and social opportunity structure. Eur J Criminol 5(1):69–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kleemans ER, van de Bunt HG (1999) The social embeddedness of organized crime. Transnational Organized Crime 5(1):19–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kleemans, E.R., Berg, E.A.I.M. van den, & Bunt, H.G. van de (1998). Georganiseerde criminaliteit in Nederland: Rapportage op basis van de WODC-monitor. [Organised crime in the Netherlands. Report based on the Monitor Organised Crime] Den Haag: WODCGoogle Scholar
  34. Kleemans, E.R., Brienen, M.E.I., & Bunt, H.G. van de (2002). Georganiseerde criminaliteit in Nederland: Tweede rapportage op basis van de WODC-monitor. [Organised crime in the Netherlands. 2nd report bases on the Monitor organised crime] Den Haag: WODCGoogle Scholar
  35. Kruisbergen, E.W., Van de Bunt, H.G., & Kleemans, E.R. (2012). Georganiseerde criminaliteit in Nederland. Vierde rapportage op basis van de Monitor Georganiseerde Criminaliteit. [Organised crime in the Netherlands. 4th report based on the monitor organised crime] Den Haag: Boom LemmaGoogle Scholar
  36. Kruisbergen EW, Leukfeldt ER, Kleemans ER, Roks RA (2018) Georganiseerde criminaliteit en ICT. Rapportage in het kader van de vijfde ronde van de Monitor Georganiseerde Criminaliteit. WODC, Den HaagGoogle Scholar
  37. Lavorgna, A. (2013). Transit crimes in the Internet age: How new online criminal opportunities affect the organization of offline transit crimes. University of Trento. Doctoral School of International StudiesGoogle Scholar
  38. Lavorgna A (2014a) Internet-mediated drug trafficking; towards a better understanding of new criminal dynamics. Trends in Organized Crime 17(4):250–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lavorgna A (2014b) Wildlife trafficking in the internet age: the changing structure of criminal opportunities. Crime Science 3(5):1–12Google Scholar
  40. Lavorgna A (2015a) Organised crime goes online: realities and challenges. Journal of Money Laundering Control 18(2):153–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lavorgna A (2015b) The online trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals: new criminal opportunities, trends and challenges. Eur J Criminol 12(2):226–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Leukfeldt ER (2014) Cybercrime and social ties. Phishing in Amsterdam. Trends in Organized Crime 17(4):231–249Google Scholar
  43. Leukfeldt, E.R. (red.) (2017). Research agenda the human factor in cybercrime and cybersecurity. Den Haag: Eleven International PublishingGoogle Scholar
  44. Leukfeldt ER, Lavorgna A, Kleemans ER (2017a) Organised cybercrime or cybercrime that is organised? An assessment of the conceptualisation of financial cybercrime as organised crime. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 23(3):287–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Leukfeldt ER, Kleemans ER, Stol WP (2017b) A typology of cybercriminal networks: from low tech locals to high tech specialists. Crime Law Soc Chang.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-016-9646-2
  46. Leukfeldt, E.R., E.R. Kleemans, & W.P. Stol (2017c) Cybercriminal networks, social ties and online forums: social ties versus digital ties within phishing and malware networks. Br J Criminol.  https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azw009
  47. Leukfeldt, E.R., E.R. Kleemans & W.P. Stol (2017d) Origin, growth and criminal capabilities of cybercriminal networks. An international empirical analysis. Crime, Law and Social Change.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-016-9647-1
  48. Leukfeldt ER, Kleemans ER, Stol WP (2017e) The use of online crime markets by cybercriminal networks: a view from within. Am Behav SciGoogle Scholar
  49. Lu Y, Luo X, Polgar M, Cao Y (2010) Social network analysis of a criminal hacker community. J Comput Inf Syst 51(2):31–41Google Scholar
  50. Lusthaus J (2012) Trust in the world of cybercrime. Global Crime 13(2):71–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lusthaus J (2013) How organised is organised cybercrime? Global Crime 14(1):52–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lusthaus J (2019) Industry of anonymity. Inside the business of cybercrime. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  53. Lusthaus J, Varese F (2017) Offline and local: the hidden face of cybercrime. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.  https://doi.org/10.1093/police/pax042
  54. McCusker R (2006) Transnational organised cyber crime. Distinguishing threat from reality, in: Crime, Law and Social Change 46(4):257–273Google Scholar
  55. Morselli C (2005) Contacts, opportunities, and criminal Enterprise. University of Toronto Press, TorontoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Morselli (2009) Inside criminal networks. Springer Verlag, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Odinot G, Verhoeven MA, Pool RLD, De Poot CJ (2017) Organised cybercrime in the Netherlands: empirical findings and implications for law enforcement. WODC, Den HaagGoogle Scholar
  58. Paoli L (2003) Mafia brotherhoods: organized crime, Italian style. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  59. Paoli L (ed) (2014) The Oxford handbook of organized crime. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  60. Przepiorka W, Norbutas L, Corten R (2017) Order without law: reputation promotes cooperation in a Cryptomarket for illegal drugs. Eur Sociol Rev do i: 10.1 093/esr/jcx072Google Scholar
  61. Reuter P (1983) Disorganized crime: illegal markets and the mafia. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  62. Smith, D.C., Jr. (1975). The mafia mystique. New York: Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
  63. Soudijn MRJ, Monsma E (2012) Virtuele ontmoetingsuimtes voor cybercriminelen. [Virtual meeting places for cybercriminals. Tijdschrift voor Criminologie 54(4):349–360Google Scholar
  64. Soudijn MRJ, Zegers BCHT (2012) Cybercrime and virtual offender convergence settings. Trends in Organized Crime 15(2–3):111–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Töttel U, Bulanova-Hristova G, Flach G (eds) (2016) Research conferences on organised crime at the Bundeskriminalamt in Germany, volume III, transnational organised crime, 2013–2015. Bundeskriminalamt (available as pdf at, Wiesbaden https://www.polizei.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/EN/Publications/Other/ResearchConferencesOnOrganisedCrime2013-2015.html Google Scholar
  66. van de Bunt HG (2007) Muren van Stilzwijgen. In: van de Bunt HG, Spierenburg P, van Swaaningen R (eds) Drie perspectieven op sociale controle, pp 133–136 Den Haag: Boom Juridische UitgeversGoogle Scholar
  67. van de Bunt HG (2010) Walls of secrecy and silence: the Madoff case and cartels in the construction industry. Criminol Public Policy 9(3):435–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Bunt, H.G. van de, & Kleemans, E.R. (2007). Georganiseerde criminaliteit in Nederland: Derde rapportage op basis van de Monitor Georganiseerde Criminaliteit. [Organised Crime in the Netherlands, 3rd report based on the Monitor Organised Crime] Den Haag: Boom Juridische uitgeversGoogle Scholar
  69. Varese F (2011) Mafias on the move. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ / OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wehinger, F. (2011). The dark net: Self-regulation dynamics of illegal online markets for identities and related services. Intelligence and security informatics conference.  https://doi.org/10.1109/EISIC.2011.54
  71. Werner, Y. & Korsell, L. (2016). Cyber-OC in Sweden. In G. Bulanova-Hristova, K. Kasper, G. Odinot, M. Verhoeven, R. Pool, C. de Poot, W. Werner, & L. Korsell (red), Cyber-OC - Scope and manifestations in selected EU member states (p. 101–164). Wiesbaden: BundeskriminalamtGoogle Scholar
  72. Yip, M., Shadbolt, N., & Webber, C. (2012). Structural analysis of online criminal social networks. IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics (ISI), 60–65Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and The Hague University of Applied SciencesAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Scientific Research and Documentation CentreDutch Ministry of Justice and SecurityDen HaagThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations