by Chris Matthews, Fortune
Cyber crime is grabbing the headlines these days, but the largest criminal gangs are still making most of their money from drugs, sex, and extortion.
It’s tough to go even a few months without seeing the effects of organized crime on the economy and everyday life. The most salient example these days is the rash of thefts of credit card data from big-name retail chains like Home Depot and Target.
While these threats are headline-grabbing and particularly frightening because e-commerce is a relatively new phenomenon and businesses and consumers aren’t totally sure how to protect themselves from hackers, it’s still a drop in the bucket in terms of overall organized crime earnings.
A 2013 survey from Javelin Strategy and Research estimates that the annual total loss to Americans due to identity theft was roughly $20 billion. But much of those costs comes from efforts to prevent identity theft or recover from its effects, rather than what thieves earn from their crimes. Compare that to estimates of pure revenue from other forms of organized crime like the drug trade and human trafficking: the Organization of American States estimates that the revenue for cocaine sales in the U.S. has reached $34 billion annually. When you add the market for other illicit drugs and revenue generators like human trafficking …….Read the entire story.