The Mafia is a body of organized crime whose sole purpose is to make money by any means possible. The complex crime organization has developed over centuries, and they seek control and power over individuals and industries by means of extortion and racketeering. Some common mafia crimes include selling illegal firearms, selling untaxed cigarettes, stolen credit card information, and sports gambling businesses. Mafia scams are real and they abound in nearly every major U.S. city. Know how to protect yourself and avoid these costly scams.
“Crash for Cash” Schemes
This insurance fraud scam involves staging car accidents with previously wrecked vehicles, claiming damages incurred during the “accident.” The mafioso involved collects money from the insurance company. Profits from the scam are often used to fund larger-scale illegal operations like drug dealing and sex trafficking.
Often-targeted victims are mothers with children and the elderly. They are individuals who likely wouldn’t put up a fuss and will definitely be insured. How do you spot an insurance scammer? Looks for the signs and tell your insurance agent if you suspect foul play.
- A driver in front of you brakes for no reason, causing you to hit them
- They are quick to aggressively blame you for the accident.
- Insurance information and general accident procedure is far too prepared and polished.
- Claims made to your insurance company are exaggerated and extensive.
Extortion, or bullying people out of their money is a crime of choice for the mafia. Take, for example, the poinsettia scandal
21st Century Mafia Crimes
While the mafia still runs schemes with labor unions and illegal gambling, their scams have evolved to using more sophisticated and lower-profile tactics. Many of the mob families’ hierarchy are behind bars today. But just because they’re less visible doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Most of their business dealings are done online. These mafia cyber criminals use fake and encrypted IP addresses so they can’t be traced. The most common crimes including hacking individual’s’ or company’s computers with phishing, installing malware, credit card and identity fraud.
How do you protect yourself?
- Never give anyone your passwords. This may go without saying, but it’s far too easy to for even a trusted family member or friend to accidentally put your information at risk—especially if their computer is infected with malware.
- Stay away from unsavory areas of the internet. Much of online cyber crime takes place through adult content of pornography and gambling. Play it safe and don’t involve yourself in anything of the sort.
- Don’t fall for pop-ups. Pop-ups that require your email address and security credentials are suspicious. Legitimate, reputable companies will not request sensitive information through a pop-up window.
- Stay low-tech. If you keep passwords and other sensitive information on your computer in a spreadsheet, consider storing that information on a device that is not connected to the internet to keep it safe in the event of being hacked.
While the mafia may still be involved in some of their violent ways of the past, most of their crimes in today’s word have to do with insurance fraud and cyber crimes. Know how to spot illegitimate business dealings and differentiate them from those of a reputable organization (such as the supposed ACN scam, which has been misunderstood as a pyramid scheme). Stay aware of your surroundings and protect yourself from potentially costly and damaging e-crimes.