Sun, 12 Jul 2020

The Ongoing Pandemic Has Affected Crime, Too

Beijing News
28 May 2020, 23:32 GMT+10

The ongoing pandemic has left a mark on pretty much every aspect of the lives of those living in the affected areas. Millions of jobs were lost around the world, entire industries have seen their revenues tank because of it - especially those relying on people leaving their homes (or leaving their countries). Work and entertainment have changed during the last months - online streaming has replaced going to the movies, people attend online-only music festivals and trade shows.

Businesses and our everyday lives are not the only things being disrupted by the ongoing pandemic, though. Specialists agree that it had a significant effect on the world of crime, too, reducing the incidence of certain organized crime-related activities while creating new opportunities in many areas.

Art theft

The arrest of the 83-year-old Picasso smuggler and the stealing of a Van Gogh painting from a Dutch museum on the artist's birthday may be the biggest art thefts we hear of this year. Museums are empty, closed down, and protected by extra safeguards from any unauthorized person accessing them. Many of them stay closed with their alarm system working 24/7.

Fraud and counterfeit

The ongoing pandemic has disrupted some activities but has also created new opportunities for those willing to exploit it. Face masks, hand sanitizers, and other products are among the most counterfeited items these days - and authorities tirelessly try to stamp out operations meant to disseminate them. At the same time, the incidence of people pretending to be medical professionals and demanding money in exchange for a "treatment" has grown lately, with an increasing number of individuals arrested for this type of activity in the weeks since the pandemic started.

Some of the most common fraudulent activities at the time of this major public health crisis has to do with the trade of health equipment like masks and protective gear - the delivery of nonconforming equipment has reportedly grown lately, in many countries around the world.

Cybercrime

The fact that a never-before-seen number of people now perform certain activities exclusively online makes the situation perfect for cybercrime to increase. Today, more corporate data is moved outside of protected internal networks than ever, and processed on the employees' home computers that don't necessarily have the same security measures in place.

Perhaps the most common form of cybercrime during this time is phishing: criminals are sending out emails claiming to be from legitimate sources like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, promising the latest statistics or updates about the pandemic, and planting malicious software through infected attachments on the users' computers that they can then exploit in several ways.

While the number of criminal incidents has reportedly decreased over the weeks and months of the pandemic, the decrease is especially notable in the case of street crime. There are many other types of activities that are thriving, though, that the authorities have to deal with in these trying times.

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