Uncovering Fraud means Uncovering Non-Obvious Relationships

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions

Although no fraud prevention measures are ever 100% foolproof, significant progress can be achieved by looking beyond the individual data points to the relationships between them. This is the science of link analysis.

Looking at data relationships isn’t straightforward and doesn’t necessarily mean gathering new or more data. The key to battling financial crimes it is to look at the existing data in a new way – namely, in a way that makes underlying connections and patterns using powerful but proven tools such as the Sentinel Visualizer software offered by Crime Tech Solutions.

Unlike most other ways of looking at data, link analysis charts are designed to exploit relationships in data. That means they can uncover patterns difficult to detect using traditional representations such as tables.

Now, we all know that there are various types of fraud – first-party, insurance, and e-commerce fraud, for instance. What they all have in common is the layers of dishonesty to hide the crime. In each of these types of fraud, link analysis from Crime Tech Solutions offers a significant opportunity to augment existing methods of fraud detection, making evasion substantially more difficult.

Let’s take a look at first-party fraud. This type of fraud involves criminals who apply for loans or credit cards but who have no intention of ever paying the money back. It’s a serious problem for banks, who lose tens of billions of dollars every year to this form of fraud. It’s hard to detect and the fraudsters are good at impersonating good customers until the moment they do their ‘Bust-Out,’ i.e. cleaning out all their accounts and disappearing.

Another factor is the nature of the relationships between the participants in the fraud ring. While these characteristics make these schemes very damaging, it also renders them especially vulnerable to link analysis methods of fraud detection.

That’s because a first-party fraud ring involves a group of people sharing a subset of legitimate contact information and bogus information, and then combining them to create a number of synthetic identities. With these fake identities, fraudsters open new accounts for new forms of loans.

The fraudsters’ accounts are used in a normal manner with regular purchases and timely payments so that the banks gain confidence and slowly increase credit over time. Then, one day… Poof! The credit cards are maxed out and everyone has disappeared. The fraudsters are long gone and ready to hit the next bank down the road.

Gartner Group believes in a layered model for fraud prevention that starts with simple discrete methods but progresses to more elaborate types of analysis. The final layer, Layer 5, is called  “Entity Link Analysis” and is designed to leverage connections in data in order to detect organized fraud.

In other words, Gartner believes that running appropriate entity link analysis queries can help organizations identify probable fraud rings during or even before the fraud occurs.

 


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