HOW OSINT CAN HELP PREVENT FINANCIAL CRIME AND RISK
The Internet has transformed many facets of modern society, radically changing how we communicate, share information, and handle our finances. Large amounts of personal and private data are available through social media platforms, blogging sites, messaging services, and as we continue to fight against COVID-19, additional resources and transactions are moving online. Financial institutions must adapt their compliance and risk assessment procedures accordingly to ensure effective defense in a time where financial crimes are on the rise. By combining existing databases with OSINT, financial analysts can gain insight into the individual’s persona, activities and environment thus ensuring appropriate risk assessment on new and existing customers.
LEVERAGING OSINT FOR FINANCIAL RISK ASSESSMENT
Financial institutions are obligated to investigate all potential clients before conducting with them business. Although these institutions possess databases that aid them in risk assessment, information regarding activity and connections around the globe can fall through the cracks impacting the institution’s ability to properly assess the customer. To avoid this, financial institutions must conduct a wide-scale search and assessment of potential clients. Using OSINT tools, analysts can capitalize on the information already publicly available regarding an individual or organization’s web presence and connections. This information combined with existing capabilities provides a more comprehensive evaluation of compatibility.
COMPLETE ONLINE AND OFFLINE ASSESSMENT IN MINUTES
When approached by a company looking to open a new bank account, financial analyst began their routine investigation meant to examine the veracity and transparency of the organization’s financial history. The investigation centered around the company’s trustees, and the official contact information provided by the organization.
As in many onboarding procedures, the company provided some initial details including names of the owners and contact phone numbers. The investigation began by inputting the contact information provided into the ProFiler™, an intelligence report generating OSINT tool that can integrate various databases for quick entity resolution. Within minutes, analysts had surfaced the name of an additional person of interest (POI) previously undisclosed to the financial institution. The intelligence report included the POI’s previous employment information and social media presence, verifying their involvement in the organization’s activities and connection to other members.
All the company’s trustees, and the new person of interest surfaced, were investigated further using the ProFound™ platform’s target investigation capabilities. As it is common practice for trustee members to belong to multiple charities’ boards, analysts used the ProBot™ tool to create a dedicated crawler for the nation’s company registry. All registered trustees were collected and cross-referenced with the targets. Results demonstrated two of the trustees’ involvement in additional organizations working for a similar cause. Financial records for the surfaced charities were also evaluated.
In parallel, the analysts employed the ProFound™ platforms topic collection capabilities to perform a wide range query to surface all content related to the organization. Intelligence collected included data from the surface, deep and dark web. Focusing on financial history, analysts utilized ProFound™ advanced automatic entity extraction capabilities to review the most mentioned organizations and individuals. This information was then cross-referenced with existing blacklists to rule out any foul play.
Further analysis of the company’s social media presence provided insight into their financial recruitment activities, and exposed their use of various cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Litecoin, to accept donations. Using specialized crawlers available through the ProFound™ platform, chain analysis was carried out to gain insight into the blockchain transactions connected to the organization’s electronic wallet. Red flags were raised when multiple wallets labeled as “gambling” wallets surfaced. Analysts flagged the results and repeated the electronic wallet analysis to assess the risk of taking on the company as a potential client.
Within hours of receiving the request for opening a new bank account, using Digital Clues suite of OSINT products, analysts managed to identify additional people of interest and organizations to cross-reference, as well as information regarding additional electronic financial transactions. This improved their ability to assess the risk of taking on the potential new client while improving their customer service by lowering response times while maintaining the level of professionalism and thoroughness necessary for proper compliance and risk assessment.
All information uncovered during a financial investigation, including suspicious activity or organizations, can then be flagged, and integrated into existing databases or business processes which will further expedite future processes.
REVOLUTIONIZING FINANCIAL ASSESSMENT
Financial fraud is a global economic threat that affects individuals and financial institutions alike. As more transactions move online, and electronic commerce and wallets become the norm, financial crime and deceit have dramatically increased. Compliance teams around the globe see the need to expand their toolbox to include publicly available information in the digital sphere, also known as OSINT.
OSINT tools play a key role in the financial sector’s adaption to the new digital reality. As demonstrated by the case above, by combining existing resources with OSINT, analysts have access to a wider range of information from which to derive insights, they can seamlessly integrate and create new datasets, and improve their response rate times, overall improving the financial system.