Does organized crime profit from Corona?

With open hands: criminals take or give money in times of crisis. (Photo by Christian Dubovan on Unsplash)

There is a constant debate about whether organised crime benefits from lax controls and unchecked gifts of money.

The news from Germany a few days ago has caused people to sit up and take notice. Radical Salafists in Berlin have collected more than 90,000 euros in state aid. They had unjustifiably applied for state Corona emergency aid and received unchecked transfers.

Organized forms of identity theft are also known. Deceptively real-looking “official” websites interrogated the intimate business details of companies in distress who wanted to apply for Corona funds in this way. Unfortunately, everything was fake. The criminals, however, used the business information to then apply for the state funds at the right address (using their own account number, of course).

The journalist and mafia expert, Roberto Saviano, reports from Italy in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung about the exact opposite that is currently taking place in Italy. There, the Mafia and ‘Ndrangheta jump into the breach when the state doesn’t help. Low-priced loans to distressed restaurateurs, care packages for families or even entire business takeovers. Organised crime takes over entire industries. After all, the clans are liquid enough with black money, which can be used especially in these times to launder money and find willing recipients.

It seems that the state can do what it wants. Times of unrest are the times of criminals. No matter whether money is paid out or not, the criminals are on the spot and benefit from the inevitably lower control pressure of the authorities. Anyone who has to distribute money quickly or control contact barriers has no personnel capacity to follow the covert activities of organised crime.