Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crime 101 - Opening a Mark

Today's Crime 101 post comes as a request from one of my housemates.

There are a lot of crimes out there that rely on using a person who isn't part of the crew. Extortion, by definition, needs a target to be exploited, but finding one of those is fairly easy. However, acts of theft and numerous other crimes are often reliant upon having an insider to help you out. This person's job is to look the other way when you need them to, and to not say anything to anyone. So, today, let's look at how you open up a mark.

Find The Mark
Obviously, the first step is to find the mark. This will depend on the job you're looking for, but generally it needs to be someone in a position to do whatever it is you need. People like janitors can be great for getting into a place, because they are often in buildings alone - or mostly alone - and have the keys to get in pretty much anywhere for cleaning. Night managers and shipping/receiving managers for stores also make great marks, because with them on board you can make entire trucks of merchandise disappear and end up in your warehouse.

A bad mark is someone who is regularly under supervision. Ideally you want the boss, the highest person in charge at the time when you are doing things. Alternatively, someone that has little to no oversight over them. You don't want to have things screwed up when a boss does a random check-in just as you're moving to the vault after all. So, make sure you find the right person.

Find The Cost
There is an old saying that "everyone has a price/" The problem is, it isn't always money. Luckily, money usually does work, especially with how little many of the gate keepers and key holders in our society are paid.  Think about it for a second, if you're making $13 an hour to spend your 11p-7a shift cleaning someone else's shiny tower of wealth and fortune, are you going to turn down someone offering you five grand to leave a door open and stay off the 12th floor between 1 and 2 am? Didn't think so.

Still, as I said, not everyone's price is money. Some people have strong moral codes. Others are just afraid of the consequences if they get caught. So take some time and do some research on the person you want to be their mark. Find out what they need, what they want, and what they care about. Ideally, you'll be paying them and making them happy. But if they won't play ball, then you may have to move on to my old pal extortion.

Is Cash Their Drug
In a recent case involving Kraft foods, one of their tomato suppliers, and a whole lot of bribery charges, the fixer (person who arranged the deal and made the bribes) talked to the papers about how he'd find out if someone would be open to a bribe. The trick was actually fairly simple, and was pretty accurate for letting you know.

What he would do is invite the person he wanted to bribe to a business lunch. As he worked for the supplier, and they were the buyer for their company, this was a perfectly legitimate thing. Then, during the lunch he would drop a $100 dollar bill on the floor under the table. A bit later, he would notice it, pick it up, and offer it to his lunch guest saying something like "Is this yours? I think you dropped it under the table." If the person took the money, they were open to being bribed. If they checked to make sure it was theirs, or otherwise denied it being theirs, then they weren't.

I kind of like this strategy as it is incredibly simple, straight forward, and really costs you nothing. Sure, maybe the price of lunch, but you don't have to do it with lunch. Best of all, you only lose the money if the person is open to being bribed. Which pretty much makes it a risk free way of trying. Just don't keep offering $100 bills to people in the same area.

Making The Approach
So, you have your mark and you know the price, now it is time to talk business. This is another one of those areas where it can depend on your crime for how to do it, but in general you want to start slow and easy. I won't tell you that most people are inherently good, but just as bad, most people are inherently cowards. We act like good people because we are afraid of the consequences of not doing so. In much the same way, you can't just spring wanting to lift a truck load of XBox's on the Best Buy night manager. Start slow and start small. Maybe you just want some information the first time. Or you just want to look around inside for thirty seconds. Don't cause any problems, and slowly wean the person into the fact that not only is this profitable, but they aren't getting in trouble for it.

After a bit, they'll be open to the idea of doing more. At that point, you're in and you successfully opened a mark.

Now, if the person isn't willing to play ball, but you still need in, then you're going to have to move to more drastic measures. At this point, the time for weaning is over. You want to be done quickly. Get in, get the job done, give the hostage back, and vanish. Also in this case, don't let the mark be able to identify you. You really don't want to have to clean up a mess, and everything involved with them having seen you just slows things down.

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