Gangs which operate on a national level, like the Crips and Bloods, are turning more to financial white collar crime. Some of these crimes are: credit card fraud, mortgage fraud and identity theft. According to the FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment, the gangs are finding these crimes more profitable than more traditional gang crimes like murder and robbery.
The FBI stated that the gangs are more organized, opportunistic, sophisticated and adaptable now. They are exploiting technology as a way to communicate, recruit, and perpetuate their crimes and target rivals.
Financial crime has risen significantly in the past few years along with technology advances and the turmoil in the economy. Though the authorities have cracked down on the crimes, new schemes are being developed and fraud is on the rise. From 2004 to 2009, fraud investigations have been elevated by 33%, according to the Financial Crimes Report (2009).
What are these Crimes?
Credit card fraud is a term which encompasses fraud and theft committed while using a credit card or a similar payment tool. The purpose of this act can be either to obtain goods without paying for them, or to accumulate funds fraudulently. U.S Federal law ensures that card holders are only liable for $50 if their cards are stolen, no matter what the amount charged on the card. If the card itself was not taken and only the credit card account number was stolen, then card owners are not held liable.
Mortgage fraud is committed when information is misrepresented or omitted on an application for a mortgage in order to obtain a loan. This also applies if the borrower wants to get a bigger loan than would have been granted otherwise. Mortgage fraud is punishable with up to 30 years of jail time according to U.S Federal law.
Identity theft or ID theft is when a criminal obtains personal information about the victim such as driver’s license number and social security number. The information can be used to purchase merchandise and services, and obtain credit under the victim’s name. Under the U.S Federal law (Identity theft penalty Act) the maximum prison sentence is five years and additional penalties are added for the abuse of power, acts of terrorism, etc.