Offline and Local: The Hidden Face of Cybercrime

Picture of Romania

Jonathon Lusthaus and Federico Varese provide more insight into the phenomena of online crime groups.  To provide more of an understanding of the offline nature of online groups they took two field trips to Romania to investigate the region around Râmnicu Vâlcea, a local known for cybercrime.  The Region of Ca Piteşti, which contains this town accounts for over 25 percent of the county’s online fraud cases, double the amount in the Capital. The geographical clustering of fraudsters hints at the role offline relationships can play in the organization and management of online crime.


“According to local prosecutors, there are at least a thousand people working full time on computer frauds in the town, mostly based in just one neighbourhood, Ostroveni.” — Page 6


The proximity allows for socializing and possibly recruitment through childhood acquaintances, workplaces, and social situations. It is possible that issues with corruption within law enforcement and local government could be related to the problem as links to organised crime within these organisations could possibly afford a degree of protection to fraudsters.  This may have created a safe space for newcomers to being introduced into and learn the trade in a more open and forgiving environment.

Romania is currently undertaking efforts to tackle this problem, increasing the manpower and training directed to the problem in this region.  The effectiveness of this effort could provide insights into how addressing offline clusters of offenders impacts online crime groups.



Lusthaus, J., & Varese, F. (2017). Offline and Local: The Hidden Face of Cybercrime. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.


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