Organized Crime Groups Utilize Crime-sourcing Strategies

O’Reilly Radar recently introduced a new term within the security area, “crime-sourcing,” coined to describe a strategy now being utilized by organized crime groups to commit criminal acts and outsource it to mostly unsuspecting individuals.

One example of crime-sourcing is the standard phishing operation, where an organized crime group will create scam web pages, hire a broker to pull thousands of email addresses, then use an intermediary to access a compromised computer and rent a botnet to distribute spam emails for a set period of time. Victims of the spam emails often provide their banking and credit card information to the crime group who will collect and distribute them. The criminals then rent distributed proxy networks to hide their locations and run transactions against the compromised accounts.

Cloudmark: The Economy of Phishing


A common place strategy to launder the illegally collected money is to advertise opportunities for “work from home,” “quick money” importing and exporting gigs. Respondents to these ads end up unknowingly taking stolen property into their homes, opening shell bank accounts in their own names and sending stolen property overseas for a small fee. This means the highest risk of the crime is outsourced to someone else - leaving only false leads behind for law enforcement.

Crime-sourcing can even be as simple as posting a job description. In one elaborate scheme, the criminal placed a job advertisement for a group of contractors to show up at a specific time and place, all dressed in their own yellow vests, safety goggles, respiratory masks and blue shirts. When the suspect dressed the same way, robbed an armored vehicle and escaped, the witnesses of the incident were unable to give the police any more information than that the subject was dressed as like all the other construction workers who showed up (O'Reilly Radar, 2011).

Fighting fire with fire, NYPD has begun “investigative sourcing” by using a social media unit to track criminals on Facebook and Twitter. In this same vein, CrimeDex provides a secure online network for law enforcement and loss prevention professionals where they can send out alerts on suspects, share evidence across the network to collaborate on stopping organized crime with both public and private sectors.