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Where are the fruits of a financial crime often hidden? Under a mattress? In a bank account? In purchased high-dollar items? All of the above are very real possibilities. Some argue that most every crime has a money nexus; therefore, if you follow the money you may be able to solidify the case. The fruits of the crime, or rather evidence, often exist hidden within transactional data. This data is not limited to bank statement data but may include credit card accounts, brokerage statements, Automated Clearing House (ACH) reports and other financial instrument documents. The analysts at NW3C frequently provide support to case agents who are investigating and prosecuting complex organized fraud schemes which include voluminous financial transactions typically between and amongst accounts from multiple banks that have occurred over a significant period of time. Much of the work required of the financial enforcement analyst in the early stages of case support involves a substantial amount of time spent on manual data entry and capturing the data in a format which can ultimately be used to investigate and prosecute suspects. Thanks to the acquisition of a powerful tool, Financial Investigations System software (FIS™), multiple accounts and thousands of lines of data that would take months or years manually to complete can now be completed in hours or days!
What is FIS?
Several years ago, NW3C purchased FIS—Financial Investigations System Software. Actionable Intelligence Technologies Inc. created the FIS software to assist with financial investigations and forensic accounting. The program can create a single database of financial transactions which it extracts from bank account statements. To do this, the FIS developers have created intelligent document analyzers (IDAs™) which capture financial data specific to a financial institution’s documents and subsequently organizes it into credit and debit activity. The number of IDAs is so large that chances are the subpoenaed accounts of an investigation already exist in the library of parsers. If it doesn’t exist at present, a request can be placed with the developers to create it.
The process is simple. If there is a matching IDA (template), the financial statements are scanned into an Adobe® PDF format at a minimum of 300 DPI (dots per inch). The PDFs are then imported into FIS and the financial transactions are outputted in a spreadsheet format. Thousands of transactions can be handled in just a number of days. To ensure accuracy, FIS requires the statements to balance on both a daily and monthly basis prior to exporting the data. The time, energy and effort saved by this process are impressive!
FIS and NW3C
NW3C’s utilization of the FIS software drastically reduces the analytical and investigation timelines by quickly providing a large amount of financial data to law enforcement in a user-friendly format. When a member provides the bank statements in the appropriate format, an NW3C Investigative Support team member runs the PDF files through the FIS software. If any discrepancies appear within the transactions, they are verified by cross-referencing with the bank statements and the necessary corrections and/or reconciliations are made. Only after each monthly statement balances, the account data is placed into a tabular format and exported into Excel® or Access® for analysis.
A member is not required to submit a request for comprehensive analytical assistance in order to take advantage of this tool. We can run statements through FIS as a stand-alone request or in conjunction with a request for the additional services provided by NW3C.
“The FIS software allowed me to complete six weeks of data entry in six hours! Completing this routine task so quickly enabled me to generate the reports the investigator needed much more swiftly. Time is of the essence when working on criminal investigations.”
--Keisha Rule, NW3C Investigative Support Analyst
“I processed 30,000 transactions 4 hours a day for 6 days (24 hrs). This would have taken me 1 year without FIS.”
--IRS Agent, Criminal Investigations (source – www.aitfis.com/testimonials.htm)
Submitting your Request
All requests for technical assistance involving FIS should be submitted to the Investigative Support Section of NW3C. Requests will need to include the bank name, region or state of the bank(s) in question, the type of account(s), and the total number of pages for the submitted statements. To inquire about assistance, members should contact the Investigative Support Section manager, Kathryn Rinker, via phone at 800-221-4424, ext. 3328, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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