Facebook For Nabbing Robbers
To catch next gen bank theives, 3VR believes you need next gen Web networking tools to smoke out the crooks.
"CrimeDex is Facebook for law enforcement," says Jim Hudson, 3VR's vp of CrimeDex services. "It's the first law enforcement and financial institution criminal intelligence network to use Web 2.0 social networking technology. It's also unique in offering public- and private-sector fraud data-sharing."
The latest version of CrimeDex, 2.0, was launched in June 2009, with a range of features designed to enable investigators to build communities for specific cases they are working on. CrimeDex 2.0 allows investigators to send out group email alerts with PDF attachments, swap video clips and still images of suspects, set up subscriber groups, share calendars and create temporary discussion boards.
While CrimeDex members can invite other specific members to join their communities, they need 3VR's consent to send out alerts to all members.
"CrimeDex offers facial recognition technology and the ability to search videos such as ATM surveillance records," Hudson says. "We have 14,000 suspects on CrimeDex."
The new version allows members who use 3VR's searchable digital video recorders to upload clips from their recorders onto CrimeDex with a single click. Uploading videos from other platforms such as Windows requires more integration work. "Our digital video recorders are Google for surveillance," quips Hudson.
Hudson launched CrimeDex in 2002 as a text-based system, after becoming frustrated with the time investigators wasted trying to discover if other agencies were chasing the same suspects.
CrimeDex 2.0 has been expanded to cover 12 different types of crime, including armed robberies, burglaries, as well as check, ATM and credit card fraud. It includes data such as false names used on forged IDs; suspects' real names; and account numbers printed on forged checks.
Currently, CrimeDex has 1,400 members, half of whom are law enforcement, and the remainder banks and credit unions. Banks of all sizes use CrimeDex, right up to Wells Fargo, Hudson says.
"CrimeDex gives investigators a bigger picture of a case they're working on than if they operated on their own," says Forrester Research analyst Ellen Carney. "They can see another bank nearby has the same fraud problem."
In 2007, Wells Fargo investigator Carol Byrum used CrimeDex to catch a Russian who had stolen $400,000 using forged cards at ATMs in California and Oregon. Posting images of the suspect making cash withdrawals resulted in Byrum being sent information leading to his arrest and imprisonment.