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The History of Financial Crime and Fraud Management

Global security advisor and futurist, Marc Goodman, recently gave a presentation for TED Talks where he discussed how criminals are making full use of new technologies which police forces around the world are struggling to match. While Post-9-11 budgets in security have risen, economic realities across the nation have seen municipalities slash budgets to their police. This puts law enforcement in the precarious state of being out-gunned by criminals who, through the use of computers and other technology, can rob thousands of dollars with just a few lines of code. Today, students gaining Master’s Degrees in Cybersecurity are one of the most important tools to fight such criminals.

Working Smarter

Law enforcement has been in this position before and indeed many would argue the police have always lagged behind criminals in adapting to new technologies. This is similar to the FBI and Chicago police were certainly out-gunned by Al Capone and other mobsters during that era. There is an old maxim which has found great influence in counter-terrorism circles: follow the money.

The Money Trail

No matter what era, when criminals have had an advantage over law enforcement it is because they have money to buy what they want, when they want it. Whether it was .45 caliber Thompson machine guns, bribing judges or building an entire cell phone network used by the narcos of Mexico, criminals are leaving a trail of bills and receipts which is invaluable to unravel such criminal networks. While human intelligence (HUMINT) is critically important, the lessons learned with a master's degree in compliance and fraud can help point an individual to where to look and for what reason. Today’s criminals are as likely to carry out a physical crime as to operate in cyberspace, where even simple email phishing scams can cause major financial crime losses. Likewise a masters degree in cybercrime can help unravel the trail for ill-gotten gains from hacking. All of these money trails lead back to the criminals, and the crimes committed.

The Computer’s Long Reach

Already many lesser criminals have found how lucrative it is to rob mailboxes to perpetrate check fraud or identity theft. Even more tech-savvy criminals hack into shipping companies, using the companies own tracking technology to pin-point where a certain rail-car will be and when so they can rob it. Just as the military has found in counter-insurgency operations, law enforcement have always worked in a multi-dimensional battlefield where many factors drive criminal operations. Just as drug money allowed criminals to buy guns enabling them to perform serious crimes, the computer opens up another larger avenue of crime.

The Thin Silicon Line

The image of law enforcement in America has always been the lone officer coming to help, to be a sheriff on a horse or a beat cop in a black-and-white. Yet as criminals find cybercrimes far more lucrative, law enforcement has to change as well. Just as FBI accountants took down Al Capone, highly trained professionals versed in computer technology will be tracking the criminals through their bank accounts which have the potential to do the most good. This also applies to the nation’s security needs as terrorists have been moving money across borders for years while using clever computer techniques to draw up their plans with members spanning the globe.

The Master’s Degree

It’s not enough to have basic computer knowledge in today’s law enforcement. These sophisticated criminals and terrorist utilize technology changes quickly and today's peace officers must be able to swiftly adapt to these changes in tactics. Officers, who understand the methodology which drives these changes, will succeed. Not only will a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security or compliance and fraud give one the tools to fight these new types of criminals, they also open a window into the broader world where law enforcement works hand-in-hand with computer specialists, mathematicians, accountants, scientists, foreign agencies and other governmental organizations.

Following the trail criminals leave behind, especially through cyberspace, is not something an officer can do alone. It requires multi-agency team-work. A master's degree will be your professional badge which will open doors and show others you have what it takes to take on the criminals of tomorrow.