Innovation update

Game-changing digital background checks and asset searches

Fraud examiners understand the importance of knowing whom you’re doing business with. From compliance and due diligence to investigative asset tracing, solid background-checking skills are key tools for CFEs. But beyond traditional methods, new techniques are emerging to greatly enhance business transparency — and some may surprise you.

Proficiency in conducting background checks and asset tracing is a critical skill set for fraud examiners. Some of the traditional ways to obtain information on subjects include searching public records, reference checks, adverse media scans, checking sanctions and watchlist databases, report writing, case management and the occasional “dumpster diving.” But it’s important that CFEs remain aware of the latest capabilities and technologies.

Recent advancements in technology have allowed anti-fraud professionals to conduct deeper, more advanced and efficient due diligence research, incorporating the banking, email, geospatial and hidden­-web activities of a person or corporation of interest.

In a recent podcast, I interviewed Ernie Brod, a legend in the due diligence field with over 30 years of experience providing business intelligence services. I was fascinated as Brod described the capabilities now available to anti-fraud professionals to enhance their digital background checks and asset searches. Brod put it best when he said, “These new approaches are a heck of a lot faster, and cleaner, than traditional dumpster diving.” (See Digital Dumpster Diving: Four Key Innovations to Enhancing Your Digital Background Checks or Asset Searches with Ernest Brod, The Walden Pond, March 4, 2021.) In this column, I’ll summarize my conversation with Brod and these new innovations in bank, web, contact (email) and geospatial intelligence.

Before we begin, however, I’d be remiss to not bring up the importance of data privacy and ensuring that the techniques I’m describing below are conducted ethically and legally. Understanding the rules of the game yourself, and working with legal counsel or a recognized, reputable law firm, is often the safest way to conduct these advanced due-diligence techniques. As always, consult with your privacy counsel before conducting these types of searches.

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