This popular show on The History Channel’s spinoff channel, H2, recently looked at organized crime and its evolution over the years, namely how organized crime has evolved with respect to evolutions in technology. Brad Meltzer had his team of investigators travel to Chicago to investigate this evolution.
The mafia’s roots lie in Sicily, and then traveled to America with the immigrant movement in the early 1800’s. The 1920’s and 1930’s are widely considered the peak of mafia activity, which brings to mind the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Al Capone, John Dillinger, Tommy guns, and Prohibition. Elliott Ness declared an end to the Mafia and organized crime in 1932, but this appears to be far from the truth. Prohibition provided a great way for organized crime to grow, but what is growing organized crime today? The Italian mob and the Irish mob lived by a code of ethics that the mobs of today do not have: families weren’t to be touched, along with women and children, and they won’t cross you if you don’t cross them. In essence, there are no limits to the violence of today’s mob-anyone who crosses the mob is taking a huge risk of losing his life. According to some experts, the Mexican mafia is the biggest threat to Americans today, with their main businesses being drugs, extortion, and kidnapping and ransom collections. The latest area being infiltrated by the mob is cybercrime, which means that anyone anywhere can become a victim.
“Producers” hack information from the internet, credit card information, and many other bits of information and send it to “Carders” who use this information to steal money from these accounts. Elaborate phishing scams and spam emails are also tools the mob uses to gain access to personal computers and vital personal information. To put the mob of years past into perspective with the mob of today, E.J. Helbert, a former FBI Cybercrime Analyst states that if Al Capone were alive today, he would most likely be running a large tech company. $4.7 billion dollars were stolen from innocent victims of cybercrime in 2010, and that number continues to skyrocket.
The takeaway message from this show is that while the 1920’s and 1930’s are reputed to be the peak of dangerous mob activity, the reality is that today’s mob is much more diverse, much more tech-savvy, and has the ability to be a much more far-reaching threat to every single American.
For more information, please see http://www.history.com/shows/brad-meltzers-decoded/articles/about-brad-meltzers-decoded.