Emerging threats: financial crime in the virtual world

Shima D. Keene (School of Advanced Study, The Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Publication date: 1 January 2012



The purpose of this paper is to highlight emerging threats in cyberspace, with particular reference to financial crime in the virtual world, which have real life implications, as well as to recommend ways in which the threat may be mitigated.


The methodology adopted consisted of an extensive literature review on topics to include cyber crime, virtual worlds, and financial crime.


Virtual worlds such as Second Life play a key role in supporting real world activities such as education, training and business and as such, should not be dismissed purely as a “gaming” environment. In addition, emerging technologies coupled with the lack of legislation and regulation within virtual worlds has created an environment where a variety of crimes can be committed without fear of detection or prosecution. A further concern is its use by criminals as a vehicle to mask real life crimes such as fraud, identify theft and money laundering. The question is to what extent the blurring of the virtual and real life environments can be clarified in order to minimise the risk of abuse of virtual environments by criminal elements, which have direct consequences in the real world.


This paper serves as a useful guide to alert and educate security professionals, the judiciary, law enforcement and policy makers of the significance and the extent of the use of “virtual” environments in cyberspace for criminal means, such as fraud and money laundering. Findings are supported by a conclusion which includes recommendations for tackling these issues.



Shima D. Keene (2012) "Emerging threats: financial crime in the virtual world", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 25-37

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: https://doi.org/10.1108/13685201211194718



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