Organised Crime Infiltration of the COVID-19 Economy
Emerging schemes and possible prevention strategies
The Covid-19 pandemic, and the recovery measures introduced by countries across the world to face the current economic crisis, have provided opportunities to organised crime (OC) networks to infiltrate the legitimate economy, take control of legitimate businesses and profiting from the current emergency situation. In particular, the following typologies of infiltration could be observed: (i) illicit lending and usury to entrepreneurs lacking liquidity; (ii) acquisition of firms in financial distress operating in sectors heavily affected by the crisis (e.g. hotels and restaurants); (iii) interest towards sectors pumped by the COVID-19 related lockdown (e.g. transport and logistics, cleaning services, trade of medical devices and pharmaceuticals); (iv) acquisition of recovery funds and public subsidies through fraud and accounting manipulations. By providing case studies and empirical data in selected countries, this paper will propose a classification of the infiltration strategies employed by OC networks as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, of the most common targets and victims, and discuss potential prevention and investigation strategies to curb and mitigate this risk.
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