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Archive for July, 2016

Review: Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking

uctzhid27 July 2016

by Helden De Paz Mancera * and Ana Lorena Vigil Gomez Haro**

© Patricio Estévez-Soto

© Patricio Estévez-Soto

Last 26th July 2016, the UCL Organised Crime Research Network convened a seminar entitled “Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking”. Our guest speakers were Dr Bill Peace, and Lovisa Ladälv from the independent charity Stop the Traffik.

Stop the Traffik (STT) has a prevention approach and focuses on building resilience communities so that they may be able to recognise human trafficking practices and report them in the best way possible, without placing themselves in a dangerous situation. SST has launched three global campaigns with the aim to raise awareness on human trafficking practices in the supply chain of the chocolate, fashion and tea industries on a global scale.

© Florian Hetzel

© Florian Hetzel

STT’s latest project is the Stop APP, which aims to empower communities to report any suspicion of human trafficking worldwide. This information, along with that gathered from different partners, is then analysed in the STT intelligence-led prevention centre and provides analytical products such as traffickers’ profiles, criminal networks, modus operandi and hotspots. By using this type of technology and intelligence, it is possible to identify where human trafficking takes place and how it looks in order to go back to the communities and further their awareness so they may be able to prevent it from happening.

© Florian Hetzel

There is evidence that human trafficking takes place in a community, through a community, and into a community. Hence, everyone can do something to prevent it. Currently, the Stop App has different partners such as IBM, Financial Times, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, amongst others who are becoming more involved in the fight against human trafficking. If you want to get the App in your mobile device please visit: http://www.stopthetraffik.org/uk/page/the-stop-app

*Helden De Paz Mancera is pursuing an MSc in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism at the UCL Jill Dando Security and Crime Science Institute.

**Ana Lorena Vigil Gomez Haro is pursuing an MA in Intelligence & International Security at King’s College London.

The views expressed in this blog post are the authors own and do not necessarily represent the views of UCL, the Department of Security and Crime Science or the UCL Organised Crime Research Network.

Interested in researching online criminal markets? Here is 1.6 TB of data

Patricio Estevez-Soto20 July 2016

It is not news that much organised crime activity has moved to the web. However, an article in this week’s edition of The Economist (“Shedding light on the dark web“, July 16 2016), provides an enlightened analysis on how the drug trade has moved from the street to online markets facilitated by anonymising technology such as Bitcoin and Tor.

The article focuses on how the market infrastructure provided by “Dark Net Markets” (DNM)—such as an escrow service, information sharing between buyers and sellers, dispute resolution mechanisms, etc.—has transformed business practices of these “organised criminals”, making them look more like Amazon and less like Al Capone.

While the article is an interesting read, what made it all the more interesting is the data it uses. As the article states:

The secretive nature of dark-web markets makes them difficult to study. But last year a researcher using the pseudonym Gwern Branwen cast some light on them. Roughly once a week between December 2013 and July 2015, programmes he had written crawled 90-odd cryptomarkets, archiving a snapshot of each page. (The Economist, July 16 2016)

Naturally, this data is a treasure trove for anyone interested in studying these criminal markets, and luckily for the research community, it is publicly available at Gwern Branwen’s Black-market archives. Branwen’s description is enticing (my emphasis):

Dark Net Markets (DNM) are online markets typically hosted as Tor hidden services providing escrow services between buyers & sellers transacting in Bitcoin or other cryptocoins, usually for drugs or other illegal/regulated goods; the most famous DNM was Silk Road 1, which pioneered the business model in 2011. From 2013-2015, I scraped/mirrored on a weekly or daily basis all existing English-language DNMs as part of my research into their usagelifetimes/characteristics, & legal riskiness; these scrapes covered vendor pages, feedback, images, etc. In addition, I made or obtained copies of as many other datasets & documents related to the DNMs as I could. This uniquely comprehensive collection is now publicly released as a 50GB (~1.6TB) collection covering 89 DNMs & 37+ related forums, representing <4,438 mirrors, and is available for any research. (Branwen, July 14 2016)

Some of this data has already been used in articles and posts, yet there is still a lot of potential for researchers from an organised crime and/or cybercrime perspectives. Branwen lists some possible uses, yet I am sure researchers that specialise in this field can think of many more.


 

The views expressed in this blog post are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of UCL, the Department of Security and Crime Science or the UCL Organised Crime Research Network.

Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking

Patricio Estevez-Soto13 July 2016

Don’t miss our next seminar: “Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking” with Dr Bill Peace.

Bill will talk about how the STOP APP collects information on human trafficking, which is later analysed in the intelligence-led centre.

The STOP APP empowers every person with a smart phone to take action against human trafficking. It is the first of its kind in combining community empowerment, big data management and anti-trafficking expertise to disrupt, combat and prevent this global issue.

The seminar will take place on July 26 at 5:30pm in the Teaching Room of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science (35 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EZ), and will be followed by a small networking reception with fellow OCRN members.

——-

Speaker’s Bio:

Bill is a security and intelligence professional of some 30 years standing. Most recently he served in the leadership of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). Prior to that he worked for the National Criminal Intelligence Service, and in various Civil Service roles embracing policy and operational aspects of defence, security, intelligence, counter-terrorism and protection.

In SOCA, he had responsibility for developing the intelligence management strategy and related capabilities. This included establishing the open source intelligence unit and overseeing information legal issues such as the operation of authorities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and compliance with the Data Protection Act. He led the development of approaches to intelligence exploitation through ‘big data’ analytics and data fusion, and worked on problems of corruption by organised crime.
Bill also led the UK’s national Financial Intelligence Unit, which resided in SOCA, managing a significant element of the national response to the threat from money laundering and terrorist financing, including the UK’s regime for national reporting of suspicious financial activities and transactions. In addition he held portfolios for managing strategy, international law enforcement cooperation through Interpol, and corporate risk.

Bill Holds MA and PhD degrees in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

Tomorrow: International Crime Science Conference 2016

Patricio Estevez-Soto11 July 2016

The UCL Organised Crime Research Network will be participating in the International Crime Science Conference—which will take place tomorrow July 12 at the British Library—with a parallel session on organised crime.

The session, titled “The European Refugee Crisis and Organised Crime” will be chaired by Dr Paul Gill, from UCL Security and Crime Science, and will feature Klaus Von Lampe, from Jon Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Chiara Galletti, from Crime, Violence and Instability work stream.

Given the prominence of migration in Europe’s current political debates, this session promises to be enlightening while contributing to the debate from academic and practitioner perspectives on this phenomenon’s effect on organised crime.

The session will take place at 15:00 in the Dickens Room.

Panama Papers and Organised Crime

Patricio Estevez-Soto11 July 2016

 

OCRN Seminar: Panama Papers
On Wednesday the 25th May 2016, UCL’s Organised Crime Research Network held a seminar on one of the most recent hot topics in organised crime: the Panama Papers.

The speaker, Stephen Platt, is a barrister and the author of books such as “Criminal Capital: How the Finance Industry Facilitates Crime”

As a practitioner in the field of financial crime, Stephen took the stand to speak to a packed seminar room at UCL’s Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science about the implications of the Panama Papers to financial crimes, such as those associated with organised crime.

OCRN Seminar: Panama Papers

Stephen delivered a very clear and thought-provoking talk that went beyond long-held assumptions on the nature of money laundering (such as the 3 stage model), and discussed how differences in regulatory frameworks in the worldwide financial system—in particular those that facilitate the shady practices exposed by the Panama Papers—generate a number of criminal opportunities that range from reckless risk-taking  by the financial industry to facilitating and enabling crime by third parties (such as money laundering, corruption, fraud and tax evasion).

The seminar was followed by refreshments and the opportunity to network with fellow OCRN members.