Modus Operandi

DEFINITION of 'Modus Operandi'

Modus operandi is a Latin term used in English to describe an individual or group's habitual way of operating, which forms a discernible pattern. The term comes into play when discussing criminal behavior, but it does not exclusively refer to criminal behavior. Modus operandi is often shortened to "M.O." in both writing and speaking.

BREAKING DOWN 'Modus Operandi'

Modus operandi can also be defined as a specific method of operation, a term also abbreviated M.O. Security firms and military strategists use a threat's M.O. to predict the next move in an armed conflict. This extension of examining an M.O. is called predictive profiling.

Examples

As an example, a Ponzi scheme's M.O. involves taking money from new investors and using it to pay off old investors to create the appearance the old investors are earning a return. A straight-A student's M.O. might be to get all her homework done the day before it is due, never miss a class and visit professors during their office hours once a week. A daily routine could be considered an M.O wherein an individual has the same basic routine every day, no matter what, to have the most productive day possible.

In terms of serious criminal behavior, law enforcement detectives may use a criminal's M.O. to link the person to several crimes. A burglar, for example, may always enter a property through a roof or attic to avoid detection through a lower door or window. When gathering evidence against the burglar, detectives may examine the method of entry, through the roof, to determine which properties the person burglarized during a crime spree.

Security Threats

An enemy's M.O. can be used by security experts and military organizations to prevent an attack while it is still in the preparation stages. Predictive profiling, an extension of an M.O. developed by Israeli security forces, predicts terrorist behavior based on observing particular behaviors in groups and individuals. Predictive profiling is successful after observing potential threats, examining situations or objects around the threats, and developing an operational profile.

Security forces then use the operational profile to predict the threat's next move. If a person always meets with a known criminal element at a certain house at a particular time of day, the operational profile may predict when the person comes to the house next. The person's M.O., meeting at the exact same time every week, gives away his pattern and, perhaps, his next move.

Predictive profiling's logical conclusion is to prevent any crimes from happening. Undercover security forces may confront the person away from the criminal's house to get more information. The threat may also face consequences if anything illegal occurred. The fact the threat came face to face with authoritarian figures may scare the person away from carrying out any more criminal activity.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Phishing

    A method of identity theft carried out through the creation of ...
  2. Financial Forensics

    A field that combines criminal investigation skills with financial ...
  3. Behavioral Funds

    Definition of behavioral funds.
  4. Money Laundering

    Money laundering is the process of creating the appearance that ...
  5. Synthetic Identity Theft

    A type of fraud in which a criminal combines real (usually stolen) ...
  6. Behavioral Accounting

    An accounting method which takes into account key decision makers ...
Related Articles
  1. Markets

    These 3 High-Quality Stocks Are Dividend Royalty

    Here are three resilient, dividend-paying companies that may mitigate some worry in an uncertain investing environment.
  2. Financial Advisor

    Worried About Bond Market Liquidity? Try ETFs

    If you're looking for liquidity in the bond market, then turn to bond ETFs. Here is an analysis of 11 to consider.
  3. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    A Quick Guide On Behavioral Funds

    Investopedia explores the working of behavioral funds, their benefits and risks, and an analysis of their past returns.
  4. Markets

    5 Tempting Sin Stocks (RAI,MO,TAP,CZR,BYD)

    These five sin stocks have performed well over the last year. Will this trend continue?
  5. Markets

    Vice Can Be Nice: 4 Sin Stocks to Consider (LVS, MO)

    These four sin stocks are likely to be resilient during a bear market.
  6. Trading

    Understanding Investor Behavior

    Discover how some strange human tendencies can play out in the market, posing the question: are we really rational?
  7. Managing Wealth

    Using Porter's 5 Forces To Analyze Stocks

    These five qualitative measures allow investors to draw conclusions about a corporation that are not apparent on the balance sheet.
  8. Trading

    Profit Without Predicting The Market

    Traders who try to predict the future can actually harm their trading options.
  9. Trading

    Modern Portfolio Theory vs. Behavioral Finance

    Modern portfolio theory and behavioral finance represent differing schools of thought that attempt to explain investor behavior. Perhaps the easiest way to think about their arguments and positions ...
  10. Investing

    8 Common Biases That Impact Investment Decisions

    Behavioral biases hit us all as investors and can vary depending upon our investor personality type.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Why does fighting money laundering reduce overall crime?

    Fighting money laundering reduces overall crime by helping identify perpetrators, restoring stolen money to victims and disrupting ... Read Answer >>
  2. Which investments have the highest historical returns?

    Stocks are historically considered the best investment in terms of rate of return. Historically, they outperform other investments ... Read Answer >>
  3. Under the Uniform Securities Act, the statute of limitations for criminal suits ...

    The correct answer is c. For alleged criminal violations, the suit must be filed within five years from discovery. Read Answer >>
  4. Under the Uniform Securities Act, the statute of limitations for criminal suits ...

    The correct answer is d. For alleged criminal violations, the suit must be filed within five years from discovery. Read Answer >>
  5. How does behavioral economics treat risk aversion?

    Learn about the relationship between decision-making and risk, as described by one of the foundational theories in behavioral ... Read Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between legal liability and public liability?

    Discover the differences between a general legal liability, a specific public liability and a professional indemnity in the ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. AAA

    The highest possible rating assigned to the bonds of an issuer by credit rating agencies. An issuer that is rated AAA has ...
  2. GBP

    The abbreviation for the British pound sterling, the official currency of the United Kingdom, the British Overseas Territories ...
  3. Diversification

    A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. The rationale behind this technique ...
  4. European Union - EU

    A group of European countries that participates in the world economy as one economic unit and operates under one official ...
  5. Sell-Off

    The rapid selling of securities, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. The increase in supply leads to a decline in the ...
  6. Brazil, Russia, India And China - BRIC

    An acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. It has been speculated that by 2050 these four ...
Trading Center