Tag Archives: i2 Analyst Notebook

Investigative Link Analysis: Consider the Source

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Case Closed Software and Crime Tech Solutions

Investigative link analysis and visualization software is a powerful tool for both law enforcement agencies and the private sector investigators alike. It allows investigators to visualize the hidden, non-obvious connections that would likely otherwise go undetected. After all, we know that the human brain is much more easily able to make connections when information is presented via images rather than text.

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An example of sophisticated investigative link analysis software, courtesy of Visallo

The software does, however, need a human to tell it what to look for, and where to look for it. Information is visualized in link analysis software by importing or querying a set of data, and then organizing that data according to parameters set by an investigator. The investigator is responsible for telling the software how to organize the data, and where to gather it from.

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There are many sources of data for an investigator. Considering the source is key.

A smart investigator will utilize multiple sources when visualizing software. The majority of the time, not all the information needed for an investigation will come from the same source.

Law Enforcement investigators may need to pull RMS data, cell phone records, case management records, and even third party data, etc, to fully understand the big picture in a scenario. By using link analysis to cross-reference these data clusters against each other, the investigator is able to see even more connections, and find even more relevant data that may be crucial in solving a case.

It is important for investigators to exhaust all their resources so they can paint the clearest picture possible. This marriage of intuition and technology ensures that no connections stay hidden from investigation.

The key, as in all of life, is considering the source.

Contact us for more information about how powerful investigation big data link analysis can help your agency today.

 

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.)

What is Link / Social Network Analysis?

Posted by Crime Tech SolutionsPic003

Computer-based link analysis is a set of techniques for exploring associations among large numbers of objects of different types. These methods have proven crucial in assisting human investigators in comprehending complex webs of evidence and drawing conclusions that are not apparent from any single piece of information. These methods are equally useful for creating variables that can be combined with structured data sources to improve automated decision-making processes. Typically, linkage data is modeled as a graph, with nodes representing entities of interest and links representing relationships or transactions. Links and nodes may have attributes specific to the domain. For example, link attributes might indicate the certainty or strength of a relationship, the dollar value of a transaction, or the probability of an infection.

Some linkage data, such as telephone call detail records, may be simple but voluminous, with uniform node and link types and a great deal of regularity. Other data, such as law enforcement data, may be extremely rich and varied, though sparse, with elements possessing many attributes and confidence values that may change over time.

Various techniques are appropriate for distinct problems. For example, heuristic, localized methods might be appropriate for matching known patterns to a network of financial transactions in a criminal investigation. Efficient global search strategies, on the other hand, might be best for finding centrality or severability in a telephone network.

Link analysis can be broken down into two components—link generation, and utilization of the resulting linkage graph.

Link Generation

Link generation is the process of computing the links, link attributes and node attributes. There are several different ways to define links. The different approaches yield very different linkage graphs. A key aspect in defining a link analysis is deciding which representation to use.

Explicit Links

A link may be created between the nodes corresponding to each pair of entities in a transaction. For example, with a call detail record, a link is created between the originating telephone number and the destination telephone number. This is referred to as an explicit link.

Aggregate Links

A single link may be created from multiple transactions. For example, a single link could represent all telephone calls between two parties, and a link attribute might be the number of calls represented. Thus, several explicit links may be collapsed into a single aggregate link.

Inferred Relationships

Links may also be created between pairs of nodes based on inferred strengths of relationships between them. These are sometimes referred to as soft links, association links, or co-occurrence links. Classes of algorithms for these computations include association rules, Bayesian belief networks and context vectors. For example, a link may be created between any pair of nodes whose context vectors lie within a certain radius of one another. Typically, one attribute of such a link is the strength of the relationship it represents. Time is a key feature that offers an opportunity to uncover linkages that might be missed by more typical data analysis approaches. For example, suppose a temporal analysis of wire transfer records indicates that a transfer from account A to person X at one bank is temporally proximate to a transfer from account B to person Y at another bank. This yields an inferred link between accounts A and B. If other aspects of the accounts or transactions are also suspicious, they may be flagged for additional scrutiny for possible money laundering activity.

A specific instance of inferred relationships is identifying two nodes that may actually correspond to the same physical entity, such as a person or an account. Link analysis includes mechanisms for collapsing these to a single node. Typically, the analyst creates rules or selects parameters specifying in which instances to merge nodes in this fashion.

Utilization

Once a linkage graph, including the link and node attributes, has been defined, it can be browsed, searched or used to create variables as inputs to a decision system.

Visualization

In visualizing linking graphs, each node is represented as an icon, and each link is represented as a line or an arrow between two nodes. The node and link attributes may be displayed next to the items or accessed via mouse actions. Different icon types represent different entity types. Similarly, link attributes determine the link representation (line strength, line color, arrowhead, etc.).

Standard graphs include spoke and wheel, peacock, group, hierarchy and mesh. An analytic component of the visualization is the automatic positioning of the nodes on the screen, i.e., the projection of the graph onto a plane. Different algorithms position the nodes based on the strength of the links between nodes or to agglomerate the nodes into groups of the same kind. Once displayed, the user typically has the ability to move nodes, modify node and link attributes, zoom in, collapse, highlight, hide or delete portions of the graph.

Variable Creation

Link analysis can append new fields to existing records or create entirely new data sets for subsequent modeling stages in a decision system. For example, a new variable for a customer might be the total number of email addresses and credit card numbers linked to that customer.

Search

Link analysis query mechanisms include retrieving nodes and links matching specified criteria, such as node and link attributes, as well as search by example to find more nodes that are similar to the specified example node.

A more complex task is similarity search, also called clustering. Here, the objective is to find groups of similar nodes. These may actually be multiple instances of the same physical entity, such as a single individual using multiple accounts in a similar fashion.

Network Analysis

Network analysis is the search for parts of the linkage graph that play particular roles. It is used to build more robust communication networks and to combat organized crime. This exploration revolves around questions such as:

  • Which nodes are key or central to the network?
  • Which links can be severed or strengthened to most effectively impede or enhance the operation of the network?
  • Can the existence of undetected links or nodes be inferred from the known data?
  • Are there similarities in the structure of subparts of the network that can indicate an underlying relationship (e.g., modus operandi)?
  • What are the relevant sub-networks within a much larger network?
  • What data model and level of aggregation best reveal certain types of links and sub-networks?
  • What types of structured groups of entities occur in the data set?

Applications

Link analysis tools such as those provided by Crime Tech Solutions are increasingly used in law enforcement investigations, detecting terrorist threats, fraud detection, detecting money laundering, telecommunications network analysis, classifying web pages, analyzing transportation routes, pharmaceuticals research, epidemiology, detecting nuclear proliferation and a host of other specialized applications. For example, in the case of money laundering, the entities might include people, bank accounts and businesses, and the transactions might include wire transfers, checks and cash deposits. Exploring relationships among these different objects helps expose networks of activity, both legal and illegal.

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.

Part 2: Investigating the Investigations – X Marks the Spot

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.  http://www.linkedin.com/in/dougwood

Part One of this series is HERE.

Most of the financial crimes investigators I know live in a world where they dream of moving things from their Inbox to their Outbox. Oh, like everyone else, they also dream about winning the lottery, flying without wings, and being naked in public. But in terms of the important roles they perform within both public and private sectors, there is simply Investigating (Inbox) and Adjudication (Outbox). Getting there requires a unique blend of their own capabilities, the availability of data, and the technology that allows them to operate. In the diagram below, ‘X‘ marks the spot where crimes are moved from the Inbox to the Outbox. Without any of those three components, an investigation becomes exponentially more difficult to conclude.

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In part one of this article two weeks ago, I wrote about the Investigation Management & Adjudication (IMA) side of financial crimes investigations. I coined that term to call out what is arguably the most integral component of any enterprise fraud management (EFM) ecosystem. The original EFM overview is here.

   “The job is almost unrecognizable to those who once used rotary phones in smoke filled offices…

Twenty years ago, IMA was based primarily upon human eyes. Yes, there were technology tools available such as Wordperfect charts and Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets, but ultimately it was the investigator who was tasked with finding interesting connections across an array of data elements including handwritten briefs, telephone bills, lists of suspect information, and discussions with other investigators. The job got done, though. Things moved from the Inbox to the Outbox, arrests were made and prosecutions were successful. Kudos, therefore, to all of the investigators who worked in this environment.

Fast forward to today, and the investigator’s world is dramatically different. The job is the same, of course, but the tools and mass availability of data has made the job almost unrecognizable to those who once used rotary phones in smoke filled offices. Organizations began building enterprise data warehouses designed to provide a single version of the truth. Identity Resolution technology was implemented to help investigators recognize similarities between entities in that data warehouse. And today, powerful new IMA tools are allowing easy ingestion of that data, improved methods for securely sharing across jurisdictions, automated link discovery, non-obvious relationship detection, and interactive visualization tools, and -importantly – packaged e-briefs which can be understood and used by law enforcement, prosecutors, or adjudication experts.

     “Without any of these components, everything risks falling to the outhouse…

With all these new technologies, surely the job of the Investigator is becoming easier? Not so fast.

IMA tools – and other EFM tools – do nothing by themselves. The data – big data – does nothing by itself. It just sits there. The best investigators – without tools or data – are rendered impotent.  Only the combination of skilled, trained investigators using the best IMA tools to analyze the most useful data available results in moving things from the Inbox to the Outbox. Without any of these components… everything eventually risks falling to the Outhouse.

Kudos again, Mr. and Mrs. Investigator. You’ll always be at the heart of every investigation. Here’s hoping you solve for X every day.

Investigating the Investigations.

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.

A few years ago, I read a book called Fraud Analytics by Delena Spann.  Ms. Spann is with the U.S. Secret Service, Electronic & Financial Crimes Task Force. The book is an overview of investigation analytics with specific information about some former technology leaders in this area.

The IBM i2 toolset is discussed, along with offerings from Raytheon, Centrifuge, and SAS, and FMS’ Link Analytics, and others. (My friend Chris Westphal, formerly 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 crime. 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 considered a thought and market leader in this segment – deservedly or not. Palantir Technologies plays in this area as well. Perhaps no company is more in tune with this market, though, than Visallo with their leading investigation analytics platform. Each platform clearly adds value to investigation case management solutions 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 investigation 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.