Justice taps big data in investigations

Advanced analytics are playing an increasingly important role in the Department of Justice's financial fraud and drug trafficking investigations

Analytics_digital_graph
 

In the last few days, top Justice Department officials have unveiled two task forces that rely on analyzing complex sets of big data to crack down on financial fraudsters and dark web drug dealers.

Both programs, said the officials, illustrate the increasing importance of the capability to sift through mountains of data to stop large-scale, secretive crimes that might otherwise be difficult to see.

On Jan. 29, Attorney General Jeff Session announced another portion of the department’s stepped-up effort to track down illicit opioid sales. Sessions said the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team would go after online “darknet” opioid dealers.

“Criminals think that they are safe on the darknet, but they are in for a rude awakening,” Sessions said in an announcement in front of the U.S. Courthouse in Pittsburgh. Agents from the FBI and Justice Department and intelligence analysts will work on the J-CODE team, he said, to further infiltrate secretive online opioid sellers.

Sessions told local reporters he chose Pittsburgh because the FBI’s office there has been “impressive” in combatting the deadly and cheap opioid fentanyl sold from the Internet’s dark shadows. “The J-CODE team will help us continue to shut down the online marketplaces that drug traffickers use and ultimately that will help us reduce addiction and overdoses across the nation,” he said.

J-CODE will more than double the FBI’s investment in fighting online opioid trafficking. Sessions said the FBI is dedicating dozens more special agents, intelligence analysts, and professional staff to J-CODE so that they can focus on this one issue.

The new J-Code team is likely to work alongside another team of big data analysts unveiled by the Justice Department a few months ago. The Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, announced by Sessions last August, uses prescription data to identify and prosecute individuals who are contributing to the opioid crisis.

Last August Sessions said that team would sort through prescription data that physicians submit to the Drug Enforcement Agency on opioid subscriptions, to find tell-tale data points, such as physicians writing opioid prescriptions at rates that far exceeds their peers; how many of a doctor's patients died within 60 days of an opioid prescription; the average age of the patients receiving these prescriptions; pharmacies dispensing disproportionately large amounts of opioids; and regional hot spots for opioid issues.

Both teams will be keys to a 45-day crackdown on prescription drug diversion from pharmacies and prescribers that dispense “unusual or disproportionate amounts of drugs,” Sessions said.

DEA said it collects around 80 million transaction reports every year from manufacturers and distributors of prescription drugs. Sessions said the DEA will aggregate to find patterns, trends, statistical outliers—and put them into targeting packages.

In a separate announcement on Jan. 29, another top Justice Department official said agency investigators leveraged big data analytics to crack down on sprawling financial fraud activity.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said in a statement that data analytics could be an equalizer in finding “identity spoofing” in an ocean of data from financial markets, and called this effort largest futures market criminal enforcement action in the criminal division’s history.

Cronan said DOJ's data analysis had led to charges against eight people in six different cases, across three federal districts. The charges concern alleged roles in manipulating futures markets for precious metals, as well as S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and NASDAQ E-mini futures contracts.

In financial markets, “spoofing” is an illegal order for a futures contract that the trader never intended to be executed. Spoofed orders are mostly immediately cancelled–sometimes within seconds – and are never filled.

However, the action artificially stirs the market and spurs trade by other traders, skewing markets, according to the department. The trades are hidden by an ocean of other trades and can be hard to detect. New data capabilities, Cronan said, allowed the agency to winnow that data down and find the alleged manipulators "through sophisticated analysis of market-level data."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.