Morning Security Brief: Japan's Mafia, "Friendly Fraud," and Reducing Crime

By Sherry Harowitz


Japan is trying to get rid of its entrenched mafia, whose members are known as yakusa, reports the New York Times. “The country’s finance ministry, for example, has directed banks to step up safeguards to prevent money laundering, cut off loans to mob-related companies and deny bank accounts to individuals with known gangster ties,” according to the NYT. But the really big ticket item is the $362 billion construction industry. To address that, the “anti-yakuza effort, which began in 2008, has shifted away from the past focus on going after the crime gangs themselves. Now the emphasis is on monitoring companies and imposing tougher penalties on ones that do business with the mob,” the NYT writes.

► MSNBC reports on the growing phenomenon of “friendly fraud,” where a purchaser pretends their identity was stolen and refuses to honor a credit card charge. “A recent survey of merchants by online information purveyor Lexis Nexis found that 23 percent of fraud losses reported by large e-commerce sites come from friendly fraud, and one quarter of those sites said friendly fraud had increased,” reports MSNBC. The problem leads to losses on a par with real cases of identity theft. Merchants and banks are trying to stem the problem by requiring people to sign for the delivered goods and through other measures, such as evidence gathered from Facebook.

►On the academic front, criminologist Daniel Nagin of Carnegie Mellon University told attendees at the American Society of Criminology’s annual meeting that the incarceration rate and the crime rate “both might be reduced if some criminal justice spending could be shifted from the corrections system to policing,” writes The Crime Report, which also reports separately that “The 2011 Stockholm Prize in Criminology has been jointly awarded to John Laub, director of the National Institute of Justice, and Robert Sampson, a Harvard social sciences professor, for their research showing why and how criminals stop offending.” Among the factors, if they get the chance to turn their live around with marriage, military service, or employment.


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