Posted by Brian Monroe - firstname.lastname@example.org 08/25/2021
Special ACFCS Report: The Front Lines – The Investigations Series: ‘OSINT Investigations’ Part 2 of 2, negative news, SARs and controlling the narrative
By Erin O’Loughlin – Senior Director of Training for ACFCS – former front-line investigator and manager for multiple large financial institutions, a crypto currency exchange and a former intelligence officer for the U.S. Government. August 25, 2021
Welcome to The Front Lines – a publication for the front-line investigator, risk officer, and compliance professional.
Here, ACFCS will discuss issues that directly affect your everyday work life, with the goal of offering practical, tactical takeaways that can immediately help you think differently, analyze more fully and act and react more quickly looking at historical and emerging challenges through the lens of an experienced investigator.
Last month, The Front Lines tackled key aspects of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT), also known as Publicly Available Information (PAI) within your investigation. To read the full story, click here.
This month, we are back to finish the job.
Now that you are armed with the initial steps to take to begin your investigation and particularly, your OSINT portion of your investigation, this month will address the next issues surrounding the use of OSINT:
- What is Negative News? · How do I address OSINT results within the narrative of the SAR template? · Is OSINT the same as evidence for law enforcement purposes?
What is Negative News?
When last we left you, we were discussing effective ways to search for names or other terms associated with the subject/s of your investigation.
Now that you have pulled up multiple pages of results from your desired search engine, the next step – step seven – is to think critically: “What am I looking at and why?”
Within the course of a potential financial crime investigation, you are seeking to discover information that could lead you to better understand what you are analyzing within your case and if it rises to the level of reportable suspicious activity – a threshold that is very subjective and can be subjected to regulatory second-guessing.
This leads the investigator to ask: What is online that makes this customer risky to bank?
Definition: Negative news is adverse media or any kind of unfavorable information across a wide variety of news sources.
This seems a relatively straightforward endeavor. But as any investigator or researcher worth their salt will tell you: it most assuredly is not.
The challenge: How to engage in the delicate dance of balancing the need for broad searches that are comprehensive enough to uncover risks and appease regulators but precise enough to divine accurate details that could cause dramatic shifts in risks requiring immediate financial crime control responses.
To help you understand what negative news and adverse media is, it might help to first get a sense of what it isn’t – a critical foundational step in the information age with the Internet expanding seemingly to infinity, and beyond.
A quick tip to help guide you: Negative news doesn’t mean all news and information.
So a bank doesn’t have to worry about the latest trending political vitriol spewing in a Twitter feud, viral Facebook post about the tactics and tantrums of a terrible neighbor or have to drop a profitable account due to a saucy burn in a Yelp review about a ritzy restaurant with more snooty than rooty, tooty, fresh and fruity.
Being that we live in an online, interconnected metaverse, it’s easy to find something negative about someone or something – a company, a restaurant, a movie, a product – in short that someone finds something they don’t like and wants to rant about it, with a bevy of outlets at their disposal.
Fincrime compliance investigators must be cognizant of this – lest they spin their wheels and take too much time and produce too little in terms of actionable, relevant intelligence for law enforcement.
Institutions don’t have to worry about feeding the trolls when trying to find material indicators of risk regulators would find relevant – and give cause to look more extensively at specific bank AML controls or doubt the “safety and soundness” of the overall program.
That clearly falls more in the realm of opinion and is not from what you would consider a reputable news site.
The overriding ethos should be to hew toward effectiveness, rather than thoroughness – a nod to recent changes made to U.S. fincrime compliance rules.
About the author:
Erin O’Loughlin comes to ACFCS with deep-rooted experience gained working inside the financial crimes/compliance industry in a variety of roles, including AML investigations for Bank of America, scouring dark web markets to identify proactive risk on the TOR network for Western Union, and supervising crypto fraud and money laundering investigations for Coinbase.
Prior to entering the private sector, O’Loughlin served as an operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency for ten years.
She was posted in both overseas and domestic positions, specializing in Counter Terrorism, conflict resolution, mediation, and due diligence.
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