Forget Ocean's 11, These Heists Are All Digital

Over the holidays Wired published an article, the Seven Best Capers of 2008, that ran down a list of crafty, entertaining schemes that ultimately resulted in the perpetrator getting caught. I encourage you to read the entire article; you’ll find that every story involves a digital component. Here’s the top rated heist:

The Snohomish Smokescreen
In September, a robber disguised as a gardener pepper-sprayed an armored car driver using a pesticide sprayer and ran off with a bag stuffed with $400,000 in cash. When police arrived seconds later, they found the sidewalk crowded with dozens of men decked out in the same attire as the perp: blue shirt, Day-Glo vest, safety mask and glasses. While the cops hacked through a forest of suspects, the real perp fled to a nearby creek and escaped in a waiting inner tube. Turns out the unwitting decoys had been lured to the crime scene by a Craigslist ad that promised construction work to those showing up in a “yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask … and, if possible, a blue shirt.” A month later, following a lead from a homeless man who witnessed the preparation for the Brinks job, police arrested 28-year-old Anthony Curcio fresh from a Las Vegas vacation. Curcio is now charged with “Interference with commerce by threats or violence,” because “Pulling the most awesome robbery ever” isn’t listed in the U.S. code.

Missing from the list are the scams by Wall Street, car companies, and any other bailout recipient as well as individuals like Bernie Madoff :)

While not as entertaining to watch as the daring Ocean’s 11, the list helps to highlight how new media (using twitter to create flashmobs, for example) and cybercrime are the way of the future. A realistic movie about any one of these heists would involve a kid at a computer for days on end, slowly accumulating wealth.

Stealing physical items was much easier to catch and prosecute; with modern plots siphoning off fractions of a cent per transaction, we face a brave new world. America has to increase technological infrastructure, educate citizens about risks, and allow greater research into security.

What do you think? Have I misinterpreted? What’s the future of crime and high-stake heists? How can we prevent it or at least mitigate the losses?