Investigating the Investigations.

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.

I recently read an excellent new book called Fraud Analytics by Delena Spann.  Ms. Spann is with the U.S. Secret Service, Electronic & Financial Crimes Task Force and is often called upon by colleagues and peers to provide presentations and professional speeches on financial fraud analysis, ethics, fraud examinations and fraud data analytic techniques. I think it’s an excellent overview of fraud analytics with specific information about some technology leaders in this area.

The powerful IBM i2 toolset is discussed, along with offerings from Raytheon, Centrifuge, SAS, and FMS’ Link Analytics, and others. (My friend Chris Westphal of Raytheon Visual Analytics, by the way, published his book ‘Data Mining for Intelligence, Fraud & Criminal Detection’ a few years ago and is another one I strongly recommend.)

Both books offer advice and use cases on how technology can be applied in the fight against financial crimes. A few months ago, I summarized the types of technology being put to use as tools to prevent, detect, and investigate fraud and other criminal activities. (It’s worth a quick read.) What I’m investigating today, however, is… well, investigations.

“IMA is the most critical connection between technology and investigators.”

In my technology summary, I termed this area Investigation Management & Adjudication (IMA). IMA is the most critical connection between technology and humans within an enterprise fraud management ecosystem. Incorporating key elements of enterprise case management, collaboration, link visualization, information dissemination and knowledge discovery, this layer of functionality is designed to uncover insights which aid in investigating complex incidents. The result ought to be actionable visualization of critical entities, and documented results for potential litigation and regulatory compliance.

IBM i2 has long been known as a thought and market leader in this segment, and for good reason. As Ms. Spann outlines in her book, the i2 tools are powerful and have helped investigators solve countless crimes worldwide. Palantir Technologies and Raytheon play in this area well, as does rising star Wynyard Group. Each clearly separate themselves from the basic incident/case management toolsets by providing powerful, emerging functionalities that allow easy and intuitive consumption of data in any form. For investigators, the more data – and the easier that data is to consume – the better.

“Users want actionable intelligence, not endless queries.”

What makes for good IMA? A few things, actually. First among them is the technology’s ability to adapt to the way human beings think and act. Users want actionable intelligence, not endless queries. IMA tools, therefore, ought to interact with the investigator in a consultative way that a fellow investigator would. “Hey, have you thought about this, Mr. Investigator?” and “Maybe you should look at that.”

Second, IMA ought to have context. Technologies that simply point to two entities and say, ‘Hey these things look linked‘ are great but leave all of the thinking up to Mr. Investigator. The IMA tools that I like have contextual values associated to those links. ‘Hey, these things look linked AND here’s why that’s important’. Big difference.

Third, IMA should bring the investigations to closure. There are a lot of data mining tools out there that allow querying with case management. How, though, does the investigator get to the point where an investigation is solved and prosecutable? Once again, the most functional IMA products act the way humans do. They package up the results of the investigation in an easy-to-comprehend document that can be shared internally or with police. No loose ends.

“Every investigation ends with an investigator.”

Predictive analytics, big data, and real-time alert scoring are the current industry buzzwords. They should be. They’re important. At the end of the day, however, every investigation ends with an investigator. Putting the right tools in their hands is often the difference between success and failure in an entire enterprise fraud management system.

That’s precisely what Crime Tech Solutions, LLC does. Please take a moment to look us over.

Part Two of this series is now available HERE.


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