How Crime Took on the World

How Crime Took on the World

  • More from this series

    • Part One
      Canada's production of marijuana challenges the US DEA
    • Part Two
      Misha Glenny goes to the Balkans to follow the trail of smuggled cigarettes.
    • Part Three
      South Africa's private security sector has boomed as people become obsessed with personal safety.
    • Part Four
      Misha Glenny goes to Brazil which produces more cyber-criminals than any other nation.
  • Photo gallery

    Misha's photos from the Balkans

The fastest growing sector of global organised crime is cyber-crime. Internet banking and credit-card fraud is increasing at a rate of about 40 percent per year and is estimated to be worth around $100 billion annually.

Brazil produces more cyber-criminals than any other nation.

As Misha Glenny finds out in the final part of this series, How Crime Took on the World, there are particular reasons for this - not least the fact that Brazil has one of the most sophisticated banking systems in the world. This is because for many years, the Brazilians operated a protectionist economic system, and therefore developed its own highly skilled IT workforce.

And there is a rich, tempting market for cyber criminals in Brazil. Although only 14 percent of the population are regular internet users, that's still close to 30 million people. Three-quarters of them do the bulk of their financial transactions on line.

In Sao Paulo Misha meets some of Brazil's spammers and hackers. He has online conversations with a cyber criminal known as 'Slack' whose group makes over $7,000 a month - a very sizeable sum in this developing nation. He also meets 'Fabio', a poor man from one of the favelas who is unashamedly learning the skills of a hacker in order to commit crime.

At the Federal Police headquarters, the officer in charge tells Misha they receive an average of thirty reports of cyber crime a day - far more than the cyber unit can deal with. And the fear is that as more and more people become computer literate, there will be a still further exponential rise in this quintessential crime for the 21st century.

Misha Glenny is the author of McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld.

First broadcast Monday 19 May 2008.

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