Bulletin Reports

Where Political Extremists and Greedy Criminals Meet: A Study of Financial Crimes and Criminal Networks

Schemes, crimes, and techniques used by far rightists, Islamic extremists, and nonextremists were analyzed. The findings revealed considerable differences in the modus operandi used by far rightists and Islamic extremists, as well as the prosecutorial strategies used against them. However, the statistical network analyses revealed interesting similarities, suggesting that financial schemes by political extremists occurred similarly to self-organizing sects that facilitated exchanges between individuals within close-knit groups regardless of their ideological affiliation. Meaningful interactions occurred between far rightists and nonextremists involved in business ventures and within a tax avoidance scheme.

Financial crime poses a serious threat to the integrity and security of legitimate businesses and institutions and to the safety and prosperity of private citizens and communities. Experts argue that the profile of financial offenders is extremely diversified and includes individuals who may be motivated by greed or ideology. Islamic extremists increasingly resort to white-collar crimes, such as credit card and financial fraud, to raise funds for their missions. In the United States, the far-right movement professes its antigovernment ideology by promoting and using a variety of antitax strategies. There is evidence that ideologically motivated individuals who engage in financial crimes benefit from interactions with profit-driven offenders and legitimate individuals who provide resources for crime in the form of knowledge, skills, and suitable co-offenders.

Attribute and relational data were extracted from the U.S. Extremist Crime Database. This is the first open-source relational database that provides information on all extremist, violent and nonviolent, ideological, and routine crimes since 1990.

For additional information go to the National Crime Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=256482, NCJ 234524.