Asset Tracing: How Technology Can Help Fraud Investigators Follow the Money to Trace Assets?

The recovery of the proceeds of financial frauds, sophisticated embezzlement schemes, or even heinous crimes like human trafficking is possible only if the investigative research helps trace hidden assets. 

The location and ownership of those assets are often hidden through a complex flow of funds in the names of different people and fraudulent entities disbursed across multiple jurisdictions in various countries.  

Such asset tracing and recovery requires investigative teams to follow the complicated money trail. Following the money trail has been a labor-intensive process, often involving thousands of pieces of information. Preparing data for asset tracing includes: 

  • Collecting raw data and files
  • Organizing files
  • Preparing data
  • Capturing data
  • Cleaning data

After these administrative tasks are completed, you can start your analysis. But this doesn’t end the time-consuming manual labor. You still need to prepare data visualizations, exploratory reporting, and reports with actionable data.

Fraud investigators need to spend their time, skills, and energy analyzing cases rather than laboring over data files. Their time is best spent identifying the linkage between various assets and making connections between the assets and criminal violations.

Read on to learn how fraud investigators can use advanced asset tracing tools to automate the extraction of useful data and preparation of data visualizations.

Automation saves investigators from spending long hours performing administrative tasks and focuses fully on asset tracing and recovery.

What is ScanWriter? | A Promising Asset Tracing Tool

ScanWriter delivers a software solution that helps investigators follow the money trail at both stages of an investigation. It automates data preparation and creates easily understandable visual representations of the data.

Developed by Personable, a Microsoft developer, ScanWriter is rapidly becoming the essential asset tracing solution for fraud investigators and forensic accountants in the U.S. public sector.

As a data preparation tool, ScanWriter captures, analyzes, and sorts all types of document data quickly and accurately. And because it isn’t cloud-based software, it’s ideal for high-security environments.

ScanWriter also shines when it comes to analysis. It can convert any paper document or digital file into normalized data on Excel or data visualization on Power BI, where it’s enriched into dynamic visuals that prompt analysis by finding links and connections between the data and criminal activity.

How ScanWriter Helped Investigate a Money Laundering Case by Tracing Assets?

The best way to understand the power of ScanWriter in asset tracing is with a real case demonstration. 

A married couple was laundering huge sums of money using a fake restaurant. 

The business’s bank statements showed many deposits from a small group of people who were supposedly the restaurant’s customers. But these deposits were unusually large for a restaurant and often involved round numbers — like deposits of $10,000 per customer. ScanWriter recognized this pattern and raised red flags. 

When investigators dug deeper, they discovered the restaurant didn’t exist. The alleged business address was a run-down, vacant building listed for sale.

Moreover, the restaurant also had a lot of suspici