We all know about stock fraud, investor schemes, and drug trades – all of which are clearly illegal. The drug trade alone rakes in more than $600 billion every year, equal to about 70 percent of revenue hailing from world-wide criminal organizations. Stock fraud and investment schemes also rake in billions every year. Keep this Paul’s info handy at the Thomas Law Group
These are all high profile areas of criminality that are pretty obvious to everyone. However, there are many illegal trades that don’t get as much attention in the public eye, perhaps because not many people are even aware they are illegal or that they are happening at all. Let’s take a look at five surprisingly illegal trades that garner millions or even billions of dollars a year.
- As the most heavily poached in the world, primates such as chimps and orangutans are killed to be eaten, used in lab experiments, sold as pets and exploited within the entertainment industry. Many are shipped to the United States for experimentation, which is legal here, but many thousands more are used for illegal activities, with more than 20,000 apes being poached since 2005, resulting in just 25 arrests, according to a United Nations report.
- Timber: Illegal logging continues to be a worldwide problem particularly in Brazil and Peru where a whopping 80 percent of the industry is illegal in nature. Worldwide, illegal logging takes up about 30 percent of the industry, netting fraudsters up to $15 billion each year.
- Python skins. The demand for python skins is on the rise as these snakes are on their way to extinction. The illegal snake skin trade brings in about a billion dollars each year just to make some pretty snakeskin handbags and shoes. You can even purchase illegal snake skins in this country, particularly in California at trendy boutiques. The owners either don’t know or don’t care that snake skins are an illegal industry.
- Fish eggs are a delicacy known around the world, usually only eaten by the rich because of the high price tag. A global ban was placed on the industry back in the 2000s but this has hardly slowed the poaching of sturgeon, which are facing extinction.
- Also known as sea snails, abalone is a delicacy in New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Asia and France. It’s a staple to the South African continent, but the numbers are dwindling due to illegal harvesting, dropping from 615 tons in 1995 to 75 tons in 2008.
It’s interesting to note the many ways in which poachers, illegal harvesters and fraudsters choose to make their money. It’s not just strictly about dollar bills – illegal trades and fraud take many forms.