The local Dimension of Cybercrime: Report from a Trip to Râmnicu Vâlcea (Romania)

Published in: Research Conferences on Organised Crime at the Bundeskriminalamt in Germany Vol. III Transnational Organised Crime 2013 – 2015

Editors: Ursula TÇttel, Gergana Bulanova-Hristova, Gerhard Flach

 A constant refrain in both the academic literature and the popular press is that cybercrime is ubiquitous and liquid (e.g., Gabrys 2002. For relevant discussions, see Grabosky 2004; Wall 2007; Lusthaus 2013). Cybercriminals could attack you from anywhere; all they need is a terminal and a connection to the internet. I wish to dispute that view. Even this type of criminal activity relies on local ties in order to grow in size and reach.1  These illegal enterprises are ‘local in scope’ (Reuter 1985: 21), although the victims are normally far from the perpetrators. It is not surprising that Russia is a highly conducing environment for internet-enabled thefts and illegal transactions. According to a recent study, the number of Russian underground forums grows every year. As of 2015, 78 websites are operating with 27% of them being “very active,“ and 41% being “active“. Popular forums “can have 20,000 to several hundreds of unique members“ (Goncharov 2015: 7). The same study indicates that prices for services offered on the forums have been dropping significantly (Goncharov 2015: 17). The virtual absence of state enforcement allows the market for stolen data to grow in size, and prices to become more competitive.

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