Electronic Imaging

How to Avoid a Paper Avalanche when Managing Complex Cases

By By Basil Orsini, CFE, CIA

Electronic imaging technology provides organizations with the tools required to quickly categorize, filter, customize, analyze, store, and retrieve enormous amounts of information residing on multiple media. Imaging has become part of the senior management agenda to increase productivity while controlling the high cost of information management. Likewise, in the investigative arena, the future of managing complex fraud cases lies increasingly in the effective use of electronic imaging.

Electronic imaging, as it relates to fraud examinations, is the process of scanning evidential or case-related documents into a magnetic medium, such as a computer’s hard drive, or an optical disk, such as a CD-ROM. Fraud examiners then can retrieve, sort, and analyze their documents without the hassle of manually sifting through massive amounts of paper files.

Fraud examiners and prosecutors may have legal obligations to complete cases in a reasonable time and make full disclosure of all materials collected. Cases have been rejected because of the length of time taken to bring them to prosecution.

Complying with these requirements manually can involve extensive photocopying costs and the resulting limitations may adversely impact some aspects of case management, such as limiting the scope of the investigation.

An imaging system’s ability to search and quickly find documents in preparation for interviewing witnesses, going to trial – and even while in court – continually proves to be indispensable. The manual system of locating documents is time-consuming – haphazard at best – and does not provide the high degree of confidence that the imaging system provides. This enhanced research capability enables earlier decisions to be made regarding collateral requests, witnesses to interview, location of further materials to be collected, or whether to continue or conclude the case.

This article is based on my evaluation of the SUPERText imaging system used by Revenue Canada to investigate a large, complex tax fraud. Imaging greatly enhanced the investigation, management, and litigation support activities of the case. As anticipated, it yielded a significant savings in photocopying costs, while concurrently exceeding expectations for the investigation team’s electronic research and analysis. It also positively affected the human resources needed to investigate the case.

Profile of a LAN (Local Area Network)/Workgroup Imaging Center Operation 

There are many possible configurations for organizing an imaging center. The imaging center Revenue Canada used to manage the complex tax fraud case had a Novell 3.12 fileserver – a high-speed computer that acts as a remote disk drive – with two 9-GIG duplexed hard drives. (Memory capacities have since increased significantly.) Duplexed hard drives are functionally identical so one drive can take over if the other drive should fail. In this particular case, the back-up hard drive saved lost work more than a few times with no loss in production over a two-year period! Two scanning workstation computers also are attached. A high-speed workstation has the ability to scan 55 single-sided pages per minute or 100 double-sided pages per minute from a 500-page sheet feeder. The utility scanning workstation has a flatbed scanner and a sheet feeder.

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