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Role of OSINT in Financial Fraud

By Suzanne Lynch, Neotas

Fraud investigators are more often than not required to work on gut feelings and instinct more than on actual proof. Don’t get me wrong, working in fraud requires a lot of instinct and trusting that gut feeling, however having evidence to prove the fraud would also be more than helpful. While fraud investigators do have tools to aid their investigations like bank checks and credit files checks, you’re often left questioning what does that really tell you about the person? That they have good credit and their bank account matches their identity? What if you had a husband and wife working together to scam the system? She may be telling you that she and her husband are separated and he has stolen her details. As an investigator you are not able to talk to the husband as he isn’t your customer, therefore you have to take the wife’s word as fact. However, by using OSINT you can learn more about the individual including looking at their social media profiles to see if there is any evidence of a divorce or separation. Moreover, is there any evidence to tell you they are working together?

Simply put, most financial crime departments do not have enough knowledge of OSINT and therefore follow “a checklist system” that was written in a policy because the regulator told you to. The problem is that as long as you are following the minimum requirements put forward by the regulator, financial companies will believe that the check list system is sufficient, it’s not and it’s allowing fraudsters to continue to get away with their crimes while they laugh at you publically on Facebook. I’m not saying that fraud investigators are not doing enough, what I am saying is investigations need to go further, OSINT is the future and before long the FCA will make this a requirement.