Crime as a service


Horizon Europe (HORIZON)


23 November 2023


€ 36 million

  • € 4 million: Research and Innovation Actions
  • € 4 million: Research and Innovation Actions
  • € 4 million: Research and Innovation Actions
  • € 8 million: Research and Innovation Actions
  • € 7 million: Innovation Actions
  • € 9 million: Innovation Actions

Relevant links

Call info page


The Crime-as-a-service (CaaS) model proliferates and becomes a prominent feature not only for the cybercriminal underground, but also for traditional criminals hiring specialised digital and financial services. Thus, availability of exploit kits and other services not only serves cybercriminals with low technical skills, but also makes the operations of mature and organised threat actors more efficient. Recently Malware-as-a-service (MaaS) offerings on the Dark Web increased, of which ransomware affiliate programs seem to be the most prominent.

The shape of the organised crime evolves, apart from traditionally closed, clandestine criminal structures, and investigators are increasingly confronted with modern, flexible, specialised and "multi-ethnic" organisations with a global operational range. As these groups seem not to work within permanent multi-layered structures but with various actors delivering on demand services, some of the organised crime characteristics might be subject to a review. Actors in the shadow economy while seeking to maximise their profit, take instant advantage of new ways of operations, exploring and benefiting from modern technologies and organisational schemes to achieve their goals, thus resulting in dynamic transformation of subject networks. The observed trend may be a challenge for the codified laws and definitions of organised crime as supposedly sealed off to outsiders and characterised by fixed and permanent cooperation. In order to enhance the fight against organised crime at the European level, there is a need for distinct research to gain comprehensive insight into the internal workings of modern organised crime structures and their marketplaces.

Coordination among the successful proposal from this topic as well as with the successful proposals under topics HORIZON-CL3-2023-FCT-01-06:  Enhancing tools and capabilities to fight advanced forms of cyber threats and cyber-dependent crimes  and HORIZON-CL3-2024-FCT-01-06: Tracing of cryptocurrencies transactions related to criminal purposes should be envisaged to avoid duplication, and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact.

 Expected outcomes

  • European Police Authorities and policy makers are provided with a robust analysis of the evolution of the contemporary organised crime, its structure, role of hierarchy, membership in the organisation and subcontracting of specialised criminal services.
  • Policy makers benefit from an analysis of the legal framework utilised for countering organised crime, in terms of the validity of the legal definitions and penal provisions adopted and their impact on the effectiveness of judicial verdicts;
  • Methodology for the identification of the means of advertising, communication, marketing and money flows used for offering criminal services on the underground market is developed, as well as the set of respective prevention, investigative and policy countermeasures; and
  • Improved knowledge within European security institutions regarding developments in the field of organised crime and prospects for the future.