Tag Archives: analyst’s notebook

Hunting for D.B. Cooper – A study in analytics.

The following article originally appeared at In Public Safety, and is a highly recommended read. It was written by Erik Kleinsmith at American Military University.

Crime Tech Weekly is posting the article in its entirety for our readers’ convenience…

By Erik Kleinsmith
Staff, Intelligence Studies, American Military University

On November 24, 1971, a man using the name Dan Cooper purchased a $35 one-way airline ticket from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington. Not long after takeoff, he hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 and demanded $200,000 in cash along with two parachutes, which he received upon landing in Seattle. He then ordered the plane to take off and fly to Mexico City; during that flight, he jumped from the aircraft into the Oregon wilderness, securing his place as the only unsolved case in FAA history.

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In early 2011, following a host of other investigations — both private and government-led — Tom Colbert picked up the trail of the man now known as D.B. Cooper. As an investigative reporter and producer living in Southern California, Colbert was tipped off by a source in the illicit drug trade who had credible — albeit circumstantial — evidence that D.B. Cooper was alive and living in California. Over the next few years, Colbert invested incredible amounts of time and personal resources toward tackling a 45-year-old mystery that so many other investigators before him had failed to solve.

A New Approach to Finding D.B. Cooper

Colbert assembled a large group of leading private investigators, detectives, attorneys, profilers and other subject matter experts into a group he called the “Cold Case Team.” He also knew he needed the expertise of intelligence professionals to help him organize and analyze all the evidence related to this case. While intelligence analysts almost always focus on using their skills for predictive analysis predictive analysis (i.e., what’s going to happen), Colbert knew having people proficient in intelligence collection and analysis would provide unique insight into a case that was decades old.

In December 2011, Colbert elicited my help while I was involved in an Army intelligence training contract. We had been associates and friends for a few years and he knew about my involvement in the Able Danger program. As a student, practitioner, developer and instructor of intelligence methodology, I was interested in his investigation because it was another chance for me to adapt intelligence analytical methods to a cold (very cold) case. I immediately agreed to support his efforts; he sent me a copy of a dossier on the man he suspected was D.B. Cooper.

It contained photos, maps, interview summaries and many other pieces of evidence connecting this man to the D.B. Cooper incident. Much of the initial information was secondhand and circumstantial, so Colbert was using it to provide further investigative leads for the Cold Case Team members.

Here is where I make my quick disclaimer: Collecting information on U.S. persons for intelligence purposes is prohibited by several federal regulations with very few specific exceptions. Even though I would be supporting a private investigation, I was working as a defense contractor at the time and therefore felt it was important to follow the spirit of these restrictions by creating products based only upon what the Cold Case Team provided. Neither myself nor my colleague independently searched for or collected any additional information for any part of this investigation.

That being said, it was an exceptional opportunity to use analytical intelligence techniques to assist in this investigation.

Using Link Analysis Techniques in the Investigation

In his meetings with various law enforcement officials, Colbert had grown frustrated that no one was taking the time to look through the dossier and consider the evidence. I gave it to one of my senior instructors, David D’Alessio, and asked him to make a link chart of associations using one of the best link analysis software programs available to us. A link chart is a graphic representation of the people, events, and significant items of interest (such as a bank account or address) associated with a particular subject.  The key to these charts are the associations or “links” between each of the people, events and items in it.

 

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Link Analysis software helps investigators and analysts visualize non-obvious relationships between entities

 

Creating this chart was a painstaking process because D’Alessio had to go through each paragraph line by line, identify the relative linkages between entities and enter them into the software program. The initial link chart started with the main suspect and then drew graphic linkages to all his known associates their connections to third parties, and a host of other associations to events, locations, aliases and specific pieces of physical evidence. Working with D’Alessio and Colbert over several iterations of this chart, we ended up with a 3×2 foot poster that, to the untrained eye, looked a lot like charts shown in court or on television shows like Law and Order. There were hundreds of links to the main suspect, the many aliases he used over the years to include military records and associations that placed him in the vicinity of the Portland, Oregon area during the time of the hijacking.

The benefit of link analysis charts is that they do more than just show connections between entities. A link chart tells a comprehensive visual story and conveys a dynamic and detailed summary of information from the document supporting it. This technique proved immensely successful, as the visual representation helped capture attention and interest from outside parties.

How Intelligence Analysis Aided in the Investigation

Besides taking text-based information and turning it into a graphic visualization for presentation purposes, a link chart also helped the investigation in other ways. First, Colbert and his team were able to see gaps in the information where investigators needed to dig deeper. He could also see which links were strong and which were weak or tenuous. The team could then plan their investigations more effectively by identifying which gaps needed to be filled and prioritize how to best use their limited resources.

This chart also had a psychological value to the Cold Case Team. In 2013, one of the team’s private investigators presented it directly to the suspect and asked him to come forward. The hope was that once the suspect knew there was a vast amount of information on the identity of D.B. Cooper (not to mention it featured his picture right at the center). Revealing this chart helped Colbert enter into negotiations with the suspect’s lawyer and he came very close to a deal that would potentially involve an admission. Unfortunately, Colbert and the Cold Case Team were turned down at the last minute due to what we believe was his fear of being connected to other illicit activities.

Why Law Enforcement Must Partner More Often with Intelligence Agencies

_KOK1002_RTCC+(3)Ultimately, this case demonstrates that intelligence analysis can play a crucial part in law enforcement investigations, both as a predictive asset as well as an investigative one. The D.B. Cooper investigation is decades old, but there are many other cases that are not. Other law enforcement agencies can use the techniques tested in this case to assist with other unsolved crimes, missing persons and patterns of criminal activity. It’s important for law enforcement authorities to remember that analysts in the intelligence field bring with them a toolkit that provides both unique and specialized analytical methods that can offer new perspectives. Bringing intelligence analysts into the fold of law enforcement can enhance a crime-solving team.

The federal government has awesome capabilities in intelligence collection and investigation but they are not alone. There is an equally awesome, yet untapped capability, in the commercial sector and among academia to support investigations like this and other more current cases. There are uncounted numbers of undergraduate and graduate students in criminal justice, data analysis and intelligence studies courses who would be eager to support a future case. In addition, there are also many retired law enforcement and intelligence professionals who would be eager to lend their experience and subject matter expertise to similar cases and problem sets, if only to satisfy the investigative bug still within them.

While the FBI officially closed its investigation in the D.B. Cooper case earlier this year, it has not been closed in the eyes of the Cold Case Team. This team continues to move forward with its own investigation, relying on intelligence analysis methods to support them and continue to evaluate every bit of evidence in new ways.

 

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Crime Tech Solutions provides affordable, high performance software for crime analysts and investigation units.

 

 

Using crime analysis solutions to take a ‘Byte’ out of crime

_KOK1002_RTCC+(3)Posted by Crime Tech Solutions 

Law enforcement agencies everywhere are tasked with reducing and investigating crime with fewer and fewer resources at their disposal. “To protect and serve” is the highest responsibilities one can sign up for, particularly in light of recent well-publicized criticisms of police by activists in every city.

That responsibility weighs even heavier in a world with no shortage of criminals and terrorists. There’s never enough money in the budget to adequately deal with all of the issues that face an individual agency on a daily basis. Never enough feet on the street, as they say.

New Tools for Age-Old Problems

Perhaps that’s why agencies everywhere are moving to fight crime with an evolving 21st century weapon – law enforcement software including investigative case management, link and social network analysis, and, importantly, crime analytics with geospatial and temporal mapping.

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Crime analytics and investigation software have proven themselves to be valuable tools in thwarting criminal activity by helping to better define resource allocation, target investigations more accurately, and enhancing public safety,

According to some reports, law enforcement budgets have been reduced by over 80% since the early 2000s. Still, agencies are asked to do more and more, with less and less.

Analytics in Policing

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Predictive Analytics for Policing

Analytics in law enforcement  play a key role in helping law enforcement agencies better forecast what types of crimes are most likely to occur in a certain area within a certain window of time. While no predictive analytics solution offers the clarity of a crystal ball, they can be effective in affecting crime reduction and public safety.

Predictive analysis, in essence, is taking data from disparate sources, analyzing them and then using the results to anticipate, prevent and respond more effectively to future crime. Those disparate data sources typically include historical crime data from records management systems, calls for service/dispatch information, tip lines, confidential informant information, and specialized criminal intelligence data.

The Five W’s of Predictive Analytics

Within this disparate data lie the 5 W’s of information that can be used by crime analysis software to build predictions. Those key pieces include:

  1. Arrest records – who committed crimes
  2. Geospatial data – where crimes have occurred
  3. Temporal data – when crimes have occurred
  4. Statistical data – what crimes have occurred
  5. Investigation data – why (and how) the crimes occurred

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Using the 5 W’s, agencies are able to gain insight and make predictions about likely future criminal behavior. For example, if a certain type of crime (what) tends to occur in ‘this’ area (where) at ‘this’ time (when), and by ‘this’ type of individual (who) for ‘this’ reason (why)… it would be wise to deploy resources in that area at that time in order to prevent the incidents from ever occurring. This, of course, is a dramatic over-simplification of the types of analytics that make up predictive policing, but illustrates the general concept well.

Although criminals will always try to be one step ahead of the law, agencies deploying predictive analytics are able to maximize the effectiveness of its staff and other resources, increasing public safety, and keeping bad guys off the street.

More about Crime Tech Solutionsblack version

Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. Our offerings include sophisticated Case Closed™ investigative case management and major case management, GangBuster™ gang intelligence software, powerful link analysis software, evidence management, mobile applications for law enforcement, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and temporal reporting, and 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence database management systems.

Crime Tech Solutions Acquires Case Closed Software

June 1, 2016 (Austin, TX)   Crime Tech Solutions, LLC, a leading provider of analytics and investigation software for law enforcement and commercial markets, today announced that it has acquired Cleveland, TN based Case Closed Software in a cash transaction. The terms of the deal were not released, but according to Crime Tech Solutions’ founder and president Douglas Wood, the acquisition brings together two dynamic and fast-growing software companies with an unparalleled complement of technologies.
For Crime Tech Solutions, the opportunity to add Case Closed Software into the fold was too good to pass up” said Mr. Wood. “We think that the technology offered by Case Closed helps to further differentiate us in the market as the price performance leader for this type of investigative solution.PNG

Crime Tech Solutions, based in the city of Leander, TX, delivers advanced analytics and investigation software to commercial investigators and law enforcement agencies across the globe. Their solution suite includes criminal intelligence software, sophisticated crime analytics with geospatial mapping, and powerful link analysis and visualization software. The company says that the addition of Case Closed Software expands those offerings even further.

CaseClosed1Case Closed Software develops and markets investigative case management software specifically designed for law enforcement agencies. The suite is built around four primary software products including best-in-class investigative case management software, property and evidence tracking, a gang database tool, and an integrated link analysis and data visualization tool.

Case Closed couldn’t be happier than to be joining Crime Tech Solutions,” said Keith Weigand, the company’s founder. “The blending of our technologies creates a suite that will add tremendous value to our mutual customers, and will be hard for others to duplicate.

According to both Mr. Weigand and Mr. Wood, the name Case Closed will continue on as the product brand, given its widespread popularity and loyal customer base. Crime Tech Solutions is expected to retain all Case Closed employees, with Mr. Weigand joining as the company’s chief technical officer.

Crime Tech Solutions says it expects continued growth via ongoing software sales and strategic acquisitions.

About Crime Tech Solutions

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. Our offerings include sophisticated Case Closed™ investigative case management and major case management, GangBuster™ gang intelligence software, powerful link analysis software, evidence management, mobile applications for law enforcement, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and predictive policing, and 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence database management systems.)

Is the Most Dangerous Company in America?

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions

ciaThis is a very interesting read about the current big data analytics darling, Palantir Technologies. The article from GS Early appears on the Personal Liberty website HERE.

The original article follows…

I was reading my newsfeeds and I came across a very interesting story about this highly secretive company that is apparently buying up as much Palo Alto, California real estate as it can get its hands on.

But that isn’t even the most interesting thing about them. What piques my interest is how this start-up that just added another $450 million to its funding — it now has about $20 billion in funding — got its money.

The company is called Palantir Technologies. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from JRR Tolkein’s trilogy of fantasy novels. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Saruman the wizard uses the Palantir of Orthanc, an indestructible sphere of dark crystal, to see into the future and communicate across the world.

That sounds geeky and innocuous enough, no?

But Palantir the company’s biggest clients are the FBI, SEC and the CIA. It is a Big Data company that also has corporate clients, but much of the work — from what anyone can tell — comes from hush-hush projects for the U.S. intelligence community.

This crystal ball of a company sounds less like a quaint fantasy than a key element of the “thought police” in Philip K. Dick’s dark science fiction tale “The Minority Report.”

In “The Minority Report,” the police used computers to predict when and where a crime would occur and apprehend the perpetrator before he actually committed the crime.

The crazy thing is, we’re now living in a world where Big Data makes that possible.

First, let me explain what Big Data is. Basically, now that our lives are completely recorded in various media — traffic cameras, debit card transactions, loyalty cards, phone calls, television shows watched, internet, social media, SMS texts, etc. — computers are powerful enough now to sort through all this data from all these sources and come up with predictive patterns for individuals and groups.

This is a very hot area for retail stores. But it also has enormous implications in a variety of industries; and many of them are helpful.

It is certainly a tool that law enforcement and our intelligence services would find valuable to root out potential terrorists or groups that are planning some terrorist act. It is also useful to find people who are attempting to elude authorities. And being able to get ahead of the some of the more devious players on Wall Street and their illegal trading schemes would be nice.

But you can see where this could be turned on Americans, just as easily as the NSA turned its endeavors on to less than righteous paths.

Palantir is raising eyebrows in the epicenter of digital startups because most companies, once they reach a certain size, move out of Palo Alto and build a campus in some surrounding town.

Not Palantir. It now owns about 10-15 percent of all the available space in Palo Alto, more than 250,000 square feet. It is the fourth most valuable venture backed company in the world.

The irony in the article was, the concern wasn’t about its biggest client or what it’s doing for the CIA, it was the fact that it’s eating up all the available commercial space in Palo Alto and not leaving room for new startups.

My concern is a bit deeper. The CIA could have quietly gone to one of the major Big Data firms like Accenture or IBM and worked with them on whatever it is they needed. But instead they essentially built their own company, where there are much fewer people to throw up roadblocks to the work being done. I have no problem with government using Big Data to protect us; my concern is when intelligence and enforcement agencies have unfettered use of it.

But, there’s no turning back the clock. We are in the Big Data, cybersecurity age and plenty of these companies already exist. Usually their goal is help their clients sell more lavender soap in February or figure out what kind of salad greens a 37-year-old mother of two prefers to buy at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday evening.

On a fundamental level, it’s best to keep your digital footprint light. Make sure you have secure passwords that aren’t just 1234 or your pet’s name. Most browsers have an “incognito” mode that won’t track your browser history. But truth be told, if someone really wants your history, they can get it.

If you’re more serious about hiding your footprints, look into encrypted services like Tor (www.torproject.com) that will protect against traffic analysis (browser history, instant messaging, etc.). It’s free and very good.

Transactions in bitcoins is a way to keep your footprint light in the marketplace.

And if you’re looking to make money on the trend, there are any number of companies that are at the forefront of cybersecurity (Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, Synamtec) and Big Data (Accenture, IBM, Teradata, Oracle).

–GS Early

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, comprehensive crime mapping and predictive policing, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)

Link Analysis and Crime – An examination.

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions

Pic003The topic of fraud is widely discussed, and the focus of thousands upon thousands of articles. Television shows such as Crime, Inc and American Greed have become popular due, in part, to our fascination with the topic of fraud.

The organizations that are affected by fraud are also fascinated… but for entirely different reasons. Some estimates suggest that the US economy loses 11 trillion dollars each year due to one form of fraud or another. It’s little wonder, therefore, that the companies most frequently defrauded have been heavily investing in anti-fraud technologies at an increasing rate over the past decade or more.

The biggest problem with fraud, of course, is that it is always evolving in a very Darwinian fashion. Like a living, breathing entity, fraud schemes change over time in order to survive. As the targets of fraud schemes put new policies, procedures and/or systems to deter the activities, the schemes modify and find new ways to survive.

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So, since the nature of criminal activity is such that they constantly change, how do investigators find a fool proof methodology to ensure they are 100% safe from them? The answer, of course, is that they can’t. They never will; at least not until we live in a world such as the one depicted in the 2002 film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. In that movie, criminals are arrested prior to committing a crime based upon the predictions of psychics called ‘Precogs’. Corporations and individual targets of fraud can only wish.

Nope, there are no Precogs running around locking up would-be practitioners of fraud that would protect banks, insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare programs, victims of Ponzi schemes, victims of identity theft, and countless others. Instead, organizations rely upon skilled knowledge workers using purpose-built crime and fraud analytics technology that can detect anomalies in patterns, suspicious transactions, hotspot mapping, networks of fraudsters, and other sophisticated data analytics tools.

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Crime and fraud analytics

Any discussion of analytics and investigation software must touch upon the topic of ‘big data’. No longer just a buzz word, big data literally fuels the insights gathered by organizations in every area of business. Naturally, then, organizations who have been traditionally targeted by fraudsters have increasingly invested in crime technology such as investigation software and analytics in order to exploit the phenomenon.

gotbigdata.pngOf course, big data in and by itself does nothing. It just sits there. Nobody has ever yelled “Help! We’ve been defrauded! Call the big data!” Big data is only useful when it can be transformed into ‘smart data’. In other words, understanding the big picture of costly fraudulent activities is not akin to understanding the specifics of ‘who’ is defrauding you, and ‘how’ they are doing it.

Those questions can best be answered through the powerful data mining and link analysis software tools offered by Austin, TX based Crime Tech Solutions in partnership with Sterling, VA based Visallo. Effective link analysis complements big data analytics platforms, helping to expose previously undetected fraud, and the entities (people or organizations) committing it.

Link Analysis – Transforming big data into smart data

By definition, link analysis is a data analysis technique that examines relationships among people, places, and things. As a visual tool, link analysis provides users a powerful method to quickly understand and ‘see’ what is happening. Because of this, it is widely used by financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies to uncover criminal networks, improve fraud investigations, detect insider fraud, and expose money laundering schemes. Similarly, government agencies use link analysis to investigate fraud, enhance screening processes, uncover terrorist networks and investigate criminal activities.

At Crime Tech Solutions, we liken the question of how to detect and deter fraud to ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer, of course, is one bite at a time. If big data is the elephant, comprehensive link analysis software is part of the one ‘bite’ at a time. Or should we say ‘byte’.

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of investigation software and analytics for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, an industry-leading investigation case management solution, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)

IBM Crime Analytics: Missing the mark? CTS Hits the bullseye!

quote-one-may-miss-the-mark-by-aiming-too-high-as-too-low-thomas-fuller-10-41-63Posted by Crime Tech Solutions – Your source for analytics in the fight against crime and fraud.

September 7, 2015. IBM announced this week a major update to its IBM i2 Safer Planet intelligence portfolio that includes a major overhaul of the widely used Analyst’s Notebook product. The product, which has become increasingly abandoned by its user base over the past five years, is now being positioned as ‘slicker‘ than previous versions.

IBM suggests that the new version scales from one to 1,000 users and can ingest petabytes of information to visualize. (A single petabyte roughly translates to 20,000,000 four-drawer filing cabinets completely filled with text).

That’s a lot of data. Seems to me that analysts are already inundated with data… now they need more?

This all begs the question: “Where is IBM headed with this product?”

The evidence seems to point to the fact that IBM wants this suite of products to compete head-to-head with money-raising machine and media darling Palantir Technologies. If I’m IBM, that makes sense. Palantir has been eating Big Blue’s lunch for a few years now, particularly at the lucrative US Federal market level. Worse yet, for IBM i2, is the recent news of a new competitor with even more powerful technology.

If I’m a crime or fraud analyst, however, I have to view this as IBM moving further and further away from my reality.

The reality? Nobody has ever yelled “Help! I’ve been robbed. Call the petabytes of ‘slick’ data!”  No, this tiring ‘big data’ discussion is not really part of the day to day work for the vast majority of analysts. Smart people using appropriate data with intuitive and flexible crime technology solutions… that’s the reality for most of us.

So, as IBM moves their market-leading tool higher and higher into the stratosphere, where does the industry turn for more practical desktop solutions with realistic pricing? For more and more customers around the world, the answer is a crime and fraud link analytics tool from Crime Tech Solutions.

No, it won’t ingest 20,000,000 four-drawer filing cabinets of data, and it’s more ‘efficient‘ than ‘slick‘. Still, the product has been around for decades as a strong competitor to Analysts Notebook, and is well-supported by a network of strategic partners around the world. Importantly, it is the only American made and supported alternative. Period. It’s also, seemingly, the last man standing in the market for efficient and cost-effective tools that can be used by real people doing their real jobs.

Using Link Analysis to untangle fraud webs

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.

NOTE: This article originally appeared HERE by Jane Antonio. I think it’s a great read…

Link analysis has become an important technique for discovering hidden relationships involved in healthcare fraud. An excellent online source, FierceHealthPayer:AntiFraud, recently spoke to Vincent Boyd Bryant about the value of this tool for payer special investigations units.

A former biometric scientist for the U.S. Department of Defense, Bryant has 30 years of experience in law enforcement and intelligence analysis. He’s an internationally-experienced investigations and forensics expert who’s worked for a leading health insurer on government business fraud and abuse cases.

How does interactive link analysis help insurers prevent healthcare fraud? Can you share an example of how the tool works?

Boyd Bryant: Link analysis is most often used to piece together different kinds of data from multiple sources–to identify key players, connections between those players and patterns of behavior frequently missed. It can simplify an understanding of the level of involvement of individuals and criminal organizational hierarchies and can greatly simplify visualizing and communicating the operations of complex criminal enterprises.

One thing criminals do best is hide pots of money in different places. As a small criminal operation becomes successful, it will often expand its revenue streams through associated businesses. Link analysis is about trying to figure out where all those different baskets of revenue may be. Insurers are drowning in a sea of theft. Here’s where link analysis becomes beneficial. Once insurers discover a small basket of money lost to a criminal enterprise, then serious research needs to go into finding out who owns the company, who they’re associated with, what kinds of business they’re doing and if there are claims associated with it.

You may find a clinic, for example, connected to and working near a pharmacy, a medical equipment supplier, a home healthcare services provider and a construction company. Diving into those companies and what they do, you find that they’re serving older patients for whom multiple claims from many providers exist. The construction company may be building wheelchair ramps on homes. And you may find that the providers are claiming payment for dead people. Overall, using this tool requires significant curiosity and a willingness to look beyond the obvious.

Any investigation consists of aggregating facts, generating impressions and creating a theory about what happened. Then you work to confirm or disconfirm your theory. It’s important to have tools that let you take large masses of facts and visualize them in ways that cue you to look closer.

Let’s say you investigate a large medical practice and interview “Doctor Jones.” The day after the interview, you learn through link analysis that he transferred $11 million from his primary bank account to the Cayman Islands. And in looking at Dr. Jones’ phone records, you see he called six people, each of whom was the head of another individual practice on whose board Dr. Jones sits. Now the investigation expands, since the timing of those phone calls was contemporaneous to the money taking flight.

Why are tight clusters of similar entities possible indicators of fraud, waste or abuse?

Bryant: When you find a business engaged in dishonest practices and see its different relationships with providers working out of the same building, this gives rise to reasonable suspicion. The case merits a closer look. Examining claims and talking to members served by those companies will give you an indication of how legitimate the operation is.

What are the advantages of link analysis to payer special investigation units, and how are SIUs using its results?

Bryant:  Link analysis can define relationships through data insurers haven’t always had, data that traditionally belonged to law enforcement.

Link analysis results in a visual reference that can take many forms: It can look like a family tree, an organizational chart or a time line. This reference helps investigators assess large masses of data for clustering and helps them arrive at a conclusion more rapidly.

Using link analysis, an investigator can dump in large amounts of data–such as patient lists from multiple practices–and see who’s serving the same patient. This can identify those who doctor shop for pain medication, for example. Link analysis can chart where this person was and when, showing the total amount of medication prescribed and giving you an idea of how the person is operating.

What types of data does link analysis integrate?

Bryant: Any type of data that can be sorted and tied together can be loaded into the tool. Examples include telephone records, addresses, vehicle information, corporate records that list individuals serving on boards and banking and financial information. Larger supporting documents can be loaded and linked to the charts, making cases easier to present to a jury.

Linked analysis can pull in data from state government agencies, county tax records or police records from state departments of correction and make those available in one bucket. In most cases, this is more efficient than the hours of labor needed to dig up these types of public records through site visits.

Is there anything else payers should know about link analysis that wasn’t covered in the above questions?

Bryant: The critical thing is remembering that you don’t know what you don’t know. If a provider or member is stealing from the plan in what looks like dribs and drabs, insurers may never discover the true extent of the losses. But if–as a part of any fraud allegation that arises–you look at what and who is associated with the subject of the complaint, what started as a $100,000 questionable claims allegation can expose millions of dollars in inappropriate billings spread across different entities.