Article: June 2024

The benefit of data analytical tools in financial and cyber investigations

By Megan Searle, Product Owner, Altia

With fraud being the most recorded offence in the UK , yet one of the most underfunded areas of crime(1), knowing which technology will deliver the greatest value is critical for every force. Megan Searle, Product Analyst, Altia, shares her perspective on where the greatest benefits can be gained by using technology in financial and cyber investigations.

It is estimated that fraud costs businesses and individuals in the UK up to £190 billion a year(2). On the face of it you would think you should throw all the technology you can at solving that challenge. Certainly, given this is an era driven by rapid technological advancement, organisations in both the public and private sector are seeing a transformation like never before. For example, 68% of large companies, 34% of medium-sized companies and 15% of small companies have adopted at least one AI technology(3). However, these statistics on their own show the challenge of realising the value of these advances. Quite simply, for some, it is an investment that cannot yet be justified.

“…one of the ways to unlock the value of technological advancements is to focus its use on the principle that more needs to be done with the resources at hand.”

At Altia, we focus on developing highly specialist software that is grounded in the realities of the investigative work that needs to be done. We believe one of the ways to unlock the value of technological advancements is to focus its use on the principle that more needs to be done with the resources at hand.

Many police forces will benefit from products like PowerBI and Qlik data analytics software in control rooms, police cars, mobile phones and when amalgamating financial data. But this illustrates one of the biggest challenges for forces – data is very siloed and an intelligence officer tasked with trying to find potential suspects for a crime may well end up trawling through 20 different places to find the relevant data and hope they get an insight and find valuable content from it.

With this challenge in mind, we focus on developing tools that enable the interrogation of this rich data, from all relevant sources in a time efficient manner. In addition to efficiency benefits, data analysis also provides a way to leverage statistical models and machine learning algorithms to identify trends and patterns in crime data.

“These tools offer a range of dashboards, reports, interrogation opportunities with the further key ability to consolidate the data obtained by our users.”

The data analytical tools that we provide help investigators, and their partner agencies spot any anomalies, patterns and hidden further lines of enquiries and we do this through our Excel and PowerBI add-in tools. These tools offer a range of dashboards, reports, interrogation opportunities with the further key ability to consolidate the data obtained by our users. The dashboards and reports we provide are accurate, clear and make working in financial crime departments easier and more time efficient.

Additionally, using elements of machine learning we can highlight patterns and trends which may have been overlooked in a standard excel format. For example, the relationship between crypto currency and financial data. Another example of this can be found in our Location dashboard, which can take information from financial data and use mapping tools to show movements of the account holder. Although this can be carried out manually by investigators, our tools help provide a clear, time efficient way of spotting data patterns and any possible further lines of enquiries.

Another example is that we have used Microsoft Azure technologies such as enhanced Microsoft cognitive services to enable audio files to be transcribed in a matter of minutes, while also highlighting dialects, different speakers and different languages, saving a huge amount of time in the investigative process.

With continual new technological advancements, it may be difficult (practically and financially) for them to be used in all departments tackling economic crime. But focused use of technology can minimise unsolved investigations and improve data mapping which, absolutely is worth its weight in gold.

If you’re using our investigation tools and you don’t feel you’re getting the most out of the latest developments in its functionality, or you’d like to share your thoughts on the challenges you’d like us to help solve, email us at communications@altiaintel.com

 

Sources:

1. Skidmore, Michael. Serious Fraud Offending in the UK. The Police Foundation (www.police-foundation.org.uk), May 2023.
2. Chapman, Martin. The Financial Cost of Fraud Report. Crowe (www.crowe.com), June 2021 and London Borough of Harrow. Fraud. (www.harrow.gov.uk/council/fraud). 2023
3. Capital Economics, commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). AI activity in UK businesses. UK Government (www.gov.uk/government/publications), January 2023

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