and people will believe it. Today I was annoyed with the repeated claim that a lesser crime such as fraud or avoiding tax on cigarettes funds a greater crime such as terrorism, drug dealing or people trafficking (National Fraud Authority).
This has been around for a while. I remember ads in London advising people not to buy counterfeit DVD’s in the pub as it would fund drug dealing, and this time it’s scam websites (see the Guardian).
The websites are thought to have generated millions of pounds for organised criminal gangs, which could then be used to fund other illicit activities, the Metropolitan Police’s Central e-crime unit (PCeU) said.
Now excuse me if I’m wrong, but those other illicit activities such as drug dealing and people trafficking (but not terrorism) tend to be quite profitable themselves. Given the risks involved I don’t see why an organised crime gang would take the money from credit card scams and invest it in loss-making drug and trafficking ventures. They don’t really need to be cross-subsidising unprofitable parts of the business. Drug dealers tend to make money and can use their previous profits to buy more product (see the Wire). People traffickers take the money up front, so they’d never be in a position to risk their own money.
Of course, a start-up drug dealing operation might need some capital, but setting up a fraud operation probably needs just as much. And perhaps credit card fraud can help with laundering, although I don’t see how. It’s more likely that the kind of gangs that are breaking the law and risking punishment are willing to diversify into other risky – in terms of punishment – businesses.
It would make sense to concentrate on the terrorism angle. After all, terrorists need money, and will use illegal means to get it. This part of the argument makes sense and should appeal to almost everybody.