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article imageTech is at the root of almost all serious crimes today: Europol

By Karen Graham     Mar 9, 2017 in Technology
High-tech crimes, such as document fraud, money laundering and online trading in illegal goods, are at the root of almost all serious criminal offenses today, said Europe's police agency on Thursday.
In a study on organized crime that Europol publishes every four years, they say, "These cross-cutting criminal threats enable and facilitate most, if not all, other types of serious and organized crime."
One of the biggest worries today is the use of "ransomware" to block a company or individual's computer until a fee is paid to unlock it. The use of ransomware is just one of the many crimes being conducted using new electronic and digitally based technology., according to Reuters.
Also known as "cybercrimes," they are far-reaching and involve criminal networks around the world. But something new is going on in the criminal underworld. And Europol points out that the use of electronic and digital technology has now been embraced by criminals that are involved in what is called "traditional" crimes.
Drug trafficking now relies on technology
Traditional crimes, such as the drug trade's use of drones for surveillance of safe areas to sell drugs or even to deliver drugs has become widespread. Drug cartels are increasingly using drones in Mexico and South America to smuggle drugs across borders.
Perhaps more concerning is the use of drone technology in the hands of terrorist groups. This too has already been documented in the war with Islamic terrorists. But another worry, according to law enforcement is the use of this technology in the hands of "lone wolf" terrorists to deliver bombs or chemical weapons.
According to the Europol report, some 5,000 international crime groups are under investigation, with members from more than 180 nationalities. And drug trafficking in the European Union remains the largest criminal market, generating 24 billion euros ($25 billion) every year.
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Max Vetrov, AFP/File
Traditional crimes that are committed using computers.
Illegal acts such as distributing child pornography, selling or purchasing illegal drugs, laundering money, gambling illegally, distributing hate propaganda or publications, committing any type of Internet fraud or even using a computer to get information before robbing a home while the family is away on vacation come under the umbrella of high-tech crimes today.
If computer technology is used to store information that will be used illegally, hide or communicate with criminal activities or criminal associates, then it is considered high-tech criminal activity. This type of crime is different from what is called "pure high-tech crime." These crimes include crimes directed to computers or computing networks, such as hacking and other offenses.
People smuggling and child pornography
Criminal networks use computer technology to help people fleeing from wars and civil unrest. People smuggling has become more lucrative as wars and unrest in the Middle East, Africa, and Central America have pushed hundreds of thousands of people to try to reach Europe, and North America.
"Nearly all of the irregular migrants arriving in the EU along these routes use the services offered by criminal networks at some point during their journey," Europol said.
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Child pornography, including those who produce, control or access child pornography has embraced technology to the point that the laws in many countries are outdated or left with gaps, requiring the rewriting or amending of the statutes in place. This problem has already arisen because of the many businesses and homes that use wireless routers.
It the router is not password protected, anyone can go online using that particular connection. If someone is online and downloading child pornography, it will appear that the router owner is the one who is accessing the illegal material. It is easy to understand how someone could be wrongfully charged with child pornography in this case.
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