Archive for the ‘crime’ tag
Brian Krebs offers a neat, detailed, and kind of horrific, peek into the world of stolen credit card data. The vocabulary list is a great run-down of what things matter inside:
BINs: Short for “Bank Identification Number,” this is the first six digits of any debit or credit credit cards, and it uniquely identifies the financial institution that issued the card. BINs are the primary method that card shops use to index wares for sale, and all buyers have their favorite BINs with which they’ve found success in the past. There are tens of thousands of BINs in use today, and few people legitimately employed in the banking industry have comprehensive BIN lists (which most banks consider proprietary). For that, you typically need to turn to the professional card shops, which track BIN usage quite closely.
I had no idea.
There are pretty charts, and a nice post, but really this piece from Vox is about one thing you may have already suspect:
Two big reasons — prosecution has become more efficient, and prison sentences have lengthened
Since the start of the current economic downturn all those years ago, this question comes up pretty regularly, and never really gets a satisfying answer. I don’t know that I’d call Jed S. Rakoff’s explanations “satisfying”, but it’s both less political and more plausible than any other explanation I’ve seen:
In recent decades, however, prosecutors have been increasingly attracted to prosecuting companies, often even without indicting a single person. This shift has often been rationalized as part of an attempt to transform “corporate cultures,” so as to prevent future such crimes; and as a result, government policy has taken the form of “deferred prosecution agreements” or even “nonprosecution agreements,” in which the company, under threat of criminal prosecution, agrees to take various prophylactic measures to prevent future wrongdoing. Such agreements have become, in the words of Lanny Breuer, the former head of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, “a mainstay of white-collar criminal law enforcement,” with the department entering into 233 such agreements over the last decade.
I read this essay over the summer, but then forgot about it until I saw a tweet from Paul Ford. It’s an interesting consideration of the economics of bike theft. The heart of the issue, as you may already recognize, is this:
For all practical purposes, stealing a bike is risk-free crime. It turns out there is a near zero chance you will be caught stealing a bike (see here) and if you are, the consequences are minimal.
Good criticism expands on and explains clearly the work it critiques. It brings a deeper understanding of the subject by virtue of contextualizing it in a world a a consumer of the work under review probably rarely notices, and may not even fully comprehend.
I’d say by that definition James Bowman’s essay on the recently concluded television series Breaking Bad is quite good criticism. I watched the show from start to finish, even when I found it’s painful plot points made me want to stop. And while at the end, I felt satisfied, I didn’t fully comprehend. Bowman’s contextualization is hugely useful in this regard:
All of us are uneasily aware that beneath the good civilizational order in which most readers of these pages and viewers of the show continue to live their lives there is a dark alternative where old rules dominate, the Enlightenment’s recurring bad dream just waiting for the opportunity to reassert itself. Ironically, it is Walt’s Enlightenment credentials as a man of science that are his entrance ticket to this new state of nature.
(via Ross Douthat)
Alex Tabarrok writes a slightly different version of a story I wrote a few years ago (I’m under no delusions that I was the first to think of it, just some self-pimping): we’re all criminals.
I broke the law yesterday and again today and I will probably break the law tomorrow. Don’t mistake me, I have done nothing wrong. I don’t even know what laws I have broken. Nevertheless, I am reasonably confident that I have broken some laws, rules, or regulations recently because its hard for anyone to live today without breaking the law.
As someone who’s never experienced it, I enjoyed Michael Friedman’s undramatic retelling of what it was like to get arrested in New York City for an old, unpaid speeding ticket.
The guards are clearly angry that the police have brought so many people to the Tombs on a Sunday, the police are angry that we aren’t being processed quickly enough for them to bring in more prisoners and make their quotas, and the public defenders seem furious at the whole thing. No one explains what is happening to the prisoners. It is unclear how long any of this will take.
I meant what I said about how Justin Wehr killing it. Here he is again:
But there’s a problem. We feel strongly – or at least believe without questioning – that we are ultimately responsible for our actions, but we also know that who we are is a product of our environment and our heredity. We aren’t responsible for our environment, and we aren’t responsible for our heredity. So we aren’t responsible for who we are. How, then, can we be responsible for what we do?
Be sure you stay tuned for the final paragraph. It’s really just about perfect, and it took a lot of will power not to pull it here.
Tyler Cowen points to a paper with an interesting contention: that criminal activity — especially financially motivated — is roughly synchronized with the timing of welfare payments.
This paper tests the hypothesis that the timing of welfare payments affects criminal activity. Analysis of daily reported incidents of major crimes in twelve U.S. cities reveals an increase in crime over the course of monthly welfare payment cycles. This increase reflects an increase in crimes that are likely to have a direct financial motivation like burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and robbery, as opposed to other kinds of crime like arson, assault, homicide, and rape. Temporal patterns in crime are observed in jurisdictions in which disbursements are focused at the beginning of monthly welfare payment cycles and not in jurisdictions in which disbursements are relatively more staggered.
Jake Adelstein has a fascinating Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post about his time covering the impotent policing of organized crime in Japan. A snippet:
Most Americans think of Japan as a law-abiding and peaceful place, as well as our staunch ally, but reporting on the underworld gave me a different perspective. Mobs are legal entities here. Their fan magazines and comic books are sold in convenience stores, and bosses socialize with prime ministers and politicians. And as far as the United States is concerned, Japan may be refueling U.S. warships at sea, but it’s not helping us fight our own battles against organized crime — a realization that led to my biggest scoop.