Mafia Increasingly Targets "Disgruntled White Collar Workers"

The video above will look familiar to some of you. When I first posted it, this is the story I meant to write, as opposed to what I did write, Undercover Feds and the Mob: Do Rivalries Arise?

The content of the above video, recently posted by FedScoop, concerns the Mafia and white-collar cybercrime, and ways law enforcement can better marshal its forces to combat these new-wave crimes.

The video includes insight from two former undercover FBI agents, Joe Pistone and David Drab. (Pistone once again calls Lefty Ruggiero a 24 hour a day wiseguy, to which I add: Pistone is a 24 hour a day Donnie Brasco.)

Pistone worked undercover for six years infiltrating the Bonanno crime family, while Drab did some work in Cleveland. Today, both consult and advise law enforcement on conducting undercover operations.

Some interesting points were raised in the video that will be of interest to readers of this blog.

Joe Pistone

Setting the context of gangland today, Pistone notes that, while the mob continues to earn from its traditional bread-and-butter rackets--gambling, loansharking, low-level street crime and the pillaging of the construction industry--it also focuses on white-collar and computer-related crimes, such as stock fraud, pump-and-dump schemes and identity theft.

Drab noted that the mob's structure remains basically unchanged (with a boss, underboss, consiglieri and soldiers, supported by associates). However, tactics and targets have shifted dramatically to computer-related crimes.

Criminal greed, he notes, is all about exploiting human weakness and identifying vulnerabilities, which is something that doesn't change. This, of course, benefits the mob, which has raised its ability to exploit others to an art form.

"The Mafia was a personification of an individual; it's about an individual," he said. "'I'm a made guy, he's a friend of ours. He's one of us. He's with us...' Today's wiseguys don't have that kind of affiliation. It's not personification as much as virtualization."

Criminals with the ability to rob a fortune these days don't need muscle. They anonymously commit crimes in the cyberworld. So instead of trying to compete with these criminals, the mob recruits them with physical force.

As Pistone says, street guys rule by intimidation. "They rule by getting in your face... That's why they recruit brokers or hackers to commit their white collar crimes. Most of them don't have the kind of intelligence to hack a computer," which in today's world can be more valuable to a criminal than an Uzi.

Drab highlights a recent case of a database systems administrator employed at a subsidiary of Fidelity who pled guilty to stealing 8.5 million customer records.

"That is the guy the mob is going to look for," Drab says. "They're going to go after that person because of what he has access to....

"They key is, they have to get inside. They are moving in the direction of, how do you get to these resources. Any individual who comes into contact with a mob figure and exposes the fact they have access to valuable information, the mob will exploit."

Disgruntled white collar workers who "may not have loyalty" toward their employers and who have access to sensitive information of value on the black market are "prime targets for the mob."

"The mob is migrating to how to get to these resources," Drab said. "Any individual who is somehow exposed [to something of value to the mob]" the mob will capitalize on this person if they can get their hands on them.

Considering the current state of the economy, with stagnating wages and workforce reductions, companies today likely will have more disgruntled employees who would be prime targets for the mob, Drab said.

Of course, these disgruntled individuals could choose to bring this information to the mob. As I've been told by one underworld source (I have new notes for another article using information provided by my friend, in fact), all these database manager-types have to do is find a good strip club in Manhattan, belly up to the bar and start talking...

Maybe they'll get something in return. Then again, maybe the FBI will come knocking one morning.

Once the mob gets its hooks into a database administrator and has those millions of customer records it will "take it to Russian mob or wherever to turn it into gold," Drab said.

Pistone offered an interesting take on Operation Donnie Brasco, his undercover infiltration of the Bonannos from 1976 to 1981.

"If that operation started now, it wouldn't last six years," he said. The current mindset of the bosses of the FBI wouldn't allow many of the things Pistone had done back then today. Also there are certain "controls and legal mechanisms" in place that wouldn't allow that type of operation, as Drab notes.

He noted that, back at the time, in the mid-1970s, the agency had lacked the intel to be had from a long-term undercover operation. On top of that, the guys running the agency in the first post-Hoover period of the FBI's history "were street guys," Pistone noted.

"You need good criminal guys," he smirked. "You need a good criminal mindset to investigate criminals. Too often people investigating terrorists don't have that mindset."

One thing the mob has lost with the "retirement" of older generations of wiseguys, who are mostly dead or in prison or witness protection, is the respect and protection of their communities. It was a reciprocal relationship.

Drab uses as an example Angelo Lonardo, (1911 − April 1, 2006) a Cleveland mobster who became the acting boss of the family in the early 1980s. After his one and only real arrest in 1983, Lonardo became a government informant and testified against his former colleagues and several mob figures throughout the U.S.

Lonardo and Jimmy Fratianno, the acting boss of the Los Angeles crime family, were the highest-ranking mobsters to become federal witnesses until Gambino crime family underboss Sammy "the Bull" Gravano during the early 1990s.

Angelo Lonardo remains one of the
highest ranking turncoats in history.
Lonardo eventually went into the federal witness protection program, but left it to return to Cleveland. He died in his sleep on April 1, 2006, at age 95.

"Lonardo was always a gentleman," said Drab. "He lived in a respected community." While other mobsters like the boss prior to Lonardo were mostly very cold toward FBI agents, sometimes even "spitting at them," according to Drab, "Lonardo was always the gentleman."

He also had been a one-man "crime wave for 50 years or better," Drab said, "and had never been prosecuted or convicted."

On the other hand, many of the street guys trying to get their button and start their climb up the ladder don't have anything "like the community standing of the older gangsters," Dab said.

"The community didn't support them like the old bosses."

"The dope dealing was part of the cultural differences that destroyed a key longtime strength of the mob.

"The old timers didn't buy into it" -- they hid it and spoke out against drugs.

The bottom line, Pistone noted, is that once again as capitalism evolves, so too does the mob.


  1. What is public knowledge? The local paper in York doesn't seem to know much about what's going on. You think the mob whacked a couple of Indians?


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