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Six degrees of separation and fraud investigation

Published: Tuesday November 05, 2013

They say that everyone on earth is connected via six degrees of separation. Understanding these links is a key factor in successfully investigating and tracing perpetrators in fraud cases.

Known criminals can sometimes slip through the net with false identities, but through increasingly intelligent identity verification, it is becoming harder for fraudsters to get in positions where they can commit these crimes.

However, while identity verification is an important tool in an organisation's arsenal, it only provides a yes or no on whether this person is who they say they are. What happens when the fraudster doesn't use a false identity? Another layer of information is needed.

Identity tracing provides access to these additional layers and enables those investigating fraud to access extended information on suspects and situations. It is this extended information which can prove indispensable when looking for answers.

For example, a common trend in motor insurance fraud is for someone to fake an accident then have insurers pay out to a garage or mechanic that the claimant is in cahoots with. Identity verification would not pick up on this crime as everyone would be exactly verifiable in the process, but identity tracing services would be able to identify that the claimant under investigation actually shares their address with a garage owner.

In order to investigate often complex fraud cases, investigators must be able to go deeper than the face value in order to build out a bigger picture. Someone may have a spotless record, but may be married to a known fraudster.

Not that this immediately implicates them in a crime, but it is important for those investigating the situation to have full oversight of the wider situation. This will enable them to establish relevant links and understanding. Without this, identifying third party fraud would be virtually impossible. By going into the depth of these connections, investigators can build out more accurate profiles and help fight fraud.