Online Financial Crimes Are a Plague on Both Our Houses

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readJun 28, 2022

From entire cities paralyzed by ransomware to individuals targeted with fake credit card offers, fraud is suddenly everywhere.

Photo by Nahel Abdul Hadi on Unsplash.

In the high-stakes world of consumer and corporate fraud and online financial crimes- a worldwide, underground cottage industry estimated well into the billions- modern criminals, like their antisocial predecessors of yesteryear, still love low-hanging fruit best.

Forgot what you saw in the movies; the best, savviest, wealthiest, most prolific, wily, and difficult to catch criminals who have ever lived do not seek out Mission Impossible-level scenarios to overcome for a big score.

They don’t need to; not with so much low-hanging financial fruit, just dangling on the vine.

The measures companies, private individuals and government agencies take to protect themselves from online fraudsters, hackers, and organized crime rings are laughably inadequate at times.

At best, most are staying one step ahead of innovative criminals willing to exploit any loophole, any system weakness, any lapse on the part of any server or employee, to steal millions.

Perhaps the most famous former-criminal turned witness for the prosecution alive today is Frank Abagnale. The exploits of Frank Abagnale are so famous, Leonardo DiCaprio played him opposite Tom Hanks in the movie version of a book Abagnale wrote about his life, Catch Me if You Can.

Abagnale got his start forging documents, kiting checks, and convincing the gullible to cash worthless financial instruments. Before he was caught by the FBI, the barely 20-year old Frank Abagnale had impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, even the head of a hospital ward. He had also stolen untold mountains of cash.

One of his cleverest tricks involved buying a used banking “MICR” machine at auction, stealing a stack of generic deposit slips from his local bank, then using the MICR machine to encode blank deposit slips with his own account number at the bottom and putting them back into the stack. Before banking authorities caught on, Abagnale had absconded with thousands.

Creating fake documents was a particular speciality of his. It was one of the reasons Abagnale was able to…