Fraud police buckling under mountains of data

Financial institutions are asking law enforcement and regulators to share more data on suspicious transactions in order to better combat fraud.

Fraud investigators are struggling to cope with vast quantities of data sent to them by financial institutions, meaning some crimes may go uninvestigated or even unnoticed, experts said at the 2007 Fraud World Conference.

The issue is prompting banks and other financial institutions to ask law enforcement and regulators to share with them more of the data they have about suspicious transactions, in order to better combat fraud.

Banks and transfer agencies are required by regulators in the U.S. and the U.K. to file reports when they detect a potentially illegal transaction, said Olga Maitland, head of the International Association of Money Transfer Networks, at the Fraud World 2007 conference in London.

Up to 300,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) are filed per month in the U.S., and up to 200,000 a year in the U.K., but most of those reports "disappear into a black hole" because law enforcement agencies don't have the resources to investigate each one, she said.

If another financial institution is mentioned in a report, it may not even know about the suspicious activity if the report is filed by a different institution. "If there is indeed a crime taking place, then that is carrying on undetected," Maitland said.

Colin Woodcock, head of the fraud section for the U.K.'s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), said the SARs program has resulted in "huge amounts of information ... which it was difficult to do anything with."

"Let's not forget they are suspicious activity reports," Woodcock said during a panel discussion. "Now, if the police or anybody really were expected to act on everything that is suspicious, we would be bogged down in the first five seconds of operation."

The quantity of reports has also created a need for greater computing power, he said.

The U.K. has made some progress, according to Woodcock, and opened up access to the SARs database to other police forces such as HM Revenue and Customs, the U.K.'s tax authority, which can use it for their own investigations, he said.

But sharing the SARs data with financial institutions raises huge concerns around confidentiality and privacy, Woodcock said. It could mean the disclosure of "very embarrassing" information about banks, he said.

SARs were "given to us by industry to make the best use law enforcement can make of it, not to go and share it with everybody and say 'Look at what NatWest just told us," he said. "There are huge problems there." (NatWest is a major U.K. bank.)

SOCA has started issuing alerts about problem trends, Woodcock said, but Maitland countered that the information is not in-depth.

Money transfer networks have blossomed into a trillian-dollar industry. If SOCA can share its information more, by being "less restrictive, less confidential," it would lead to a greater reduction in fraud, Maitland said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?