Government targets money laundering with big data

Money laundering has been a major tool used by criminal syndicates all over the world in order to hide revenue generated by their illegal enterprises. Terrorist organizations, illegal arms dealers and drug cartels all use laundering procedures to prevent law enforcement agents from tracking their money and establishing a clear connection between criminal activity and generated revenue. According to the United States government's Financial Action Task Force, approximately $1.6 trillion of criminal revenue is laundered each year.

Because money laundering activity is hidden in plain sight, it can be enormously difficult for law enforcement officials to identify it. However, officials from the U.S. Treasury Department said big data may provide a potential solution. Security Management reported that the agency's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) had begun deploying data analytics tools to help its agents better identify instances of money laundering.

Uncovering money launderers with big data
Federal investigators have used a software tool called the FinCEN Query to comb through 11 years' worth of Suspicious Activity Reports compiled under the Bank Secrecy Act. Normally, this would be difficult and time-consuming, but the data analytics software streamlines the process by filtering the information. Investigators can then locate transactions that may suggest the parties in question are laundering money. The system can also identify banks and financial centers that have facilitated such behavior in the past.

Main Justice reported that officials plan to take this system one step further. Advances in big data technology have allowed federal agents to pursue predictive analytics capabilities. Using analytics software to review successful investigations, government officials could identify indicators of money laundering activity. Agents could then use that information to establish a collection of money laundering signs that law enforcement members could use to identify criminal behavior.

"Very soon, we will be able to quickly point law enforcement and other stakeholders to precisely where they should be looking," said FinCEN director Jennifer Shasky Calvery. "If you have one case of money laundering or drug trafficking that you're particularly proud of finding, let us help you find 20 more just like it."

Hadoop big data tools can be useful to private enterprises and public institutions alike. Regardless of an organization's goal, data analytics software can provide the tools to process massive datasets and extract previously unseen insights. Whether an enterprise wants to improve its marketing campaign effectiveness or identify criminal activity, if it involves gathering and analyzing large volumes of information, big data can help.

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Big Data

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