Archive for November, 2008

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-11-21

Friday, November 21st, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

NOTE: We will start posting again after Thanksgiving. Happy Turkey Day!

datanomic: Are we nearly there yet?

“In the 1990s, Customer Relationship Management promised, amongst other things, to provide us with a single view of customers, but the ideal fragmented into a number of different disciplines, largely dictated by technology vendors.  Instead of a single customer view, most organisations have multiple, often inconsistent views of their customers and prospects delivered through an assortment of Sales Force Automation, Analytical CRM and Campaign Management systems each propagating their own database.”

Scamtypes: 5 Types Of Social Networking Scam - #1 The Fake Identity

“Setting up a new profile on the major social networking sites is an incredibly simple thing to do. For criminals this presents a tremendous opportunity as it allows them to affiliate themselves with just about any identity, whether that is a real person or not. For some, a fake identity may just be a means of having fun online, however warped that intention may be. For others, far more sinister motives guide them, from arranging risky meetings to making abusable connections and many other shady reasons.”

Conde Nast Daily Traveler: Bush Officials Claim a Kinder, Gentler Airport Security

“And sometime in January, you will start giving your birth date, home address, and full legal name when you make an airline reservation–all part of a ’secure flight’ initiative that will reduce the number of innocent people who are falsely flagged as potential terrorists because their names resemble those of actual bad guys.”

The Bunker Blog: Macy’s Loss Prevention Agent Arrested For Assisting Shoplifters

“One of the alleged shoplifters was the sister of the loss prevention agent. The 24 year old LP agent had been working for Macy’s since February, and his manager suspected something was going on, so a surveillance was conducted on the LP agent by the manager.”

Evolution of Security: Why?

“More than 23 million passengers were screened at our checkpoints last year during the holiday season, and many of those passengers travel infrequently. Those are the travelers we’d most like to reach. Passenger feedback has shown us that people are more willing to comply with security procedures if they understand the ‘why’ behind the measure.”

Leveraging Identity Resolution Data Sources

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer

Ever have this experience? You’re searching Google for specific examples of a topic when you come across an already compiled and complete list of related examples – what a find! I had this experience recently when looking for contact information for people we wanted to invite to a marketing event, and voila! – I found a list of them that was 90% complete and accurate. Without that find, the project could have taken a couple days longer.

Aggregations of this type abound. Besides lists that individuals put together and post on the web, public and private databases offer all sorts of information on people that are useful in addressing multiple types of business problems and opportunities. Here are a few links to “people data” that you may not be aware of, and there are many more:




NETR Online



Who’s Who

Identities contained in multiple databases with varying schemas as well as ambiguous and sometimes missing attributes can be resolved to deliver a clear picture of a person and activities they are involved in. Here’s an example that illustrates how you can draw on multiple data sources to solve a complex problem.

Everyone knows about insider trading, especially with the recent allegations about Mark Cuban. Essentially, someone uses confidential knowledge about a financial transaction to buy or sell stock to their personal advantage.

Many illegal insider stock trades can be readily identified. How? By “similarity searching” across records of stock trades, associated timelines (who knew what and when about the event) and public company financial institution data (e.g., CapitalIQ) then finding hidden relationships using biographical information (e.g., Who’s Who), background screening and residential information (e.g., ChoicePoint), and other public and private sources.

There are many more cases where identity resolution can exploit available data sources to address complex problems. Making sense out of these massive amounts of data by aggregating and sifting through them requires an ability to score the results accurately. Just as importantly, you need to be able to configure the scoring to fit the specific problem, i.e. the solution must be tuned to meet unique requirements.

Solving complex business problems often requires knowing more about who you’re dealing with and their relationships. Vast amounts of data are accessible online via APIs and web services, and they can be incorporated into new kinds of online applications that once were impossible.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-11-17

Monday, November 17th, 2008

[Post from Infoglide] Identity Resolution Daily: Proud of Our Heritage

“When we examine our company’s roots, we see that our heritage is finding bad guys. That’s what David Wheeler set out to do when he saw that detectives had a critical need for better tools for criminal investigations. That is what we are beginning to do in the great State of Washington to identify businesses trying to cheat on their workers’ compensation premiums. From desktops to mainframes and everything in between, our roots have spread and have helped keep us stable as the winds of change have buffeted us about.”

Miami Herald: Workers’ compensation investigator accused of fraud

“In September, according to an arrest warrant, Vega visited Pipe Designs Inc., 7710 NW 72nd Ave., in Miami-Dade. The company did not have any workers’ compensation coverage, Vega found. Vega told owner Ronald Triana that he would lower the hefty penalty — between $27,000 and $30,000 — if Triana gave him a $2,500 money order with the payee information blank, according to the warrant.”

onestopclick: MDM ‘driving software development’

“Studies carried out by IT industry analyst Gartner indicate the necessity for firms to increase the effectiveness of their database development, while reducing costs and meeting compliance requirements, is driving the take-up of MDM technologies.”

Computing SA: IT downturn: every cloud has a silver lining

“Open source data integration, data quality, and extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) applications will flourish in these conditions because they are less costly to obtain, widely supported and constantly updated.”

opodo: Travellers reminded of Esta regulations

“Jim Forster, British Airways’ government and industry affairs manager, said: ‘The US is our biggest overseas market and we have been working hard to advise our visa waiver customers that they must apply to the Department of Homeland Security well in advance of travel.’”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-11-14

Friday, November 14th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

Windsor Star: OLG coughs up cash

“The insider policy is to guard against fraud, such as a retailer who tells a customer a ticket is not a winner and then tries to claim the prize. In the spring of 2007, a provincial ombudsman issued a scathing report on the OLG and said Ontario store owners and their families had collected tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims.”

MarketWatch: Worldwide thefts cost retailers US $104 billion annually - Survey

“This year’s survey, the most complete analysis of global shrink ever conducted, reports key findings on retail shrinkage and crime in 36 countries and on five continents, based on data from a confidential survey of 920 large retailers with combined sales of U.S. $814 billion and 115,612 operating retail outlets…’This sum represents a tax imposed on honest people by retail criminals of $229.73 per household or $71.12 for every single person in the 36 countries surveyed,’ said Professor Bamfield, Director of the Centre for Retail Research.”

Jackson Citizen Patriot: Kids learn online dangers

Internet predators lurk on networking Web sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, or in chat rooms, looking for young victims. ‘Everybody you meet online is an Internet stranger,’ Malik Williams, an Internet-safety presenter from the Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative, told more than 50 fifth-graders Tuesday at Concord Elementary School. ‘That’s why it’s important to keep yourself safe.’”

Bucyrus TelegraphForum: Bucyrus experiences rash of break-ins

“‘There is a new trend in what we call e-fencing. Thieves are selling their stolen items on the Internet versus just selling them outright. They can get up to 70 percent or more of the value if they sell on the Internet versus selling them on the streets, where they only get about 30 percent of the value,’ Teets said.”

SFGate: Ex-S.F. firefighter’s workers’ comp problem

“Indeed, if Hijjawi were trying to hide her fitness quest, she wasn’t doing a very good job. Our own Google search turned up records showing her running in marathons in Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, Honolulu and elsewhere. From 2001 to 2006, according to records on the Web site Athlinks, Hijjawi ran in no fewer than a dozen marathons. And her biography on another site shows she was taking on even bigger challenges, including the Canada 2005 Ultraman super triathlon competition - in which competitors swim 6.2 miles, ride a bike for 170 miles and run 52 miles, twice the distance of a marathon. Completing it took her more than 33 hours.”

Bunker Blog: Update On Cops Involved In Major Shoplifting Ring

“Kevin Burchell and Clifford Barber, both police officers, worked with two others, one of them an employee at the Walmart the items were taken from; to get up to $200,000.00 worth of merchandise out of the store and onto an eBay site. According to the latest report, Barber was the mastermind behind the scheme, and sold the items on eBay and to friends and acquaintances.”

Proud of Our Heritage

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

By Mike Shultz, Infoglide Software CEO

When we examine our company’s roots, we see that our heritage is finding bad guys. That’s what David Wheeler set out to do when he saw that detectives had a critical need for better tools for criminal investigations. That is what we are beginning to do in the great State of Washington to identify businesses trying to cheat on their workers’ compensation premiums. From desktops to mainframes and everything in between, our roots have spread and have helped keep us stable as the winds of change have buffeted us about.

It is with a touch of sadness that our company looks back to a time when the whole nation was shaken by an event that reminded us that the bad guys are still very much out there. Like everyone who was moved by the loss of so many and so much, we wanted to do something to help. So it is with pride that we recently witnessed a major milestone signifying the final stage in the development of Secure Flight, the nation’s new system to help prevent the events of 9-11 from ever happening again.

We were gratified to hear TSA Administrator Kip Hawley recently announce, “Secure Flight will improve security by maintaining the confidentiality of the government’s watch list information while fully protecting passengers’ privacy and civil liberties.” We could not help but feel proud knowing we have been a key part of this important program since its very beginning.

Our roots run deep, and though we remain small, we remain strong and sturdy. We don’t know what the future holds, but we are certain that as long as there are bad guys out there, we will try to be there to help. For us, you see, it’s more than just a business.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-11-07

Friday, November 7th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

Risk&Insurance: Public, private sectors muscling up for fight against comp fraud

“Mention workers’ compensation fraud and images of videographers lurking in the bushes to catch some schemer in the act of peeling off his neck brace for a game of tennis might spring to mind. That scenario outlines what is commonly known as claimant fraud.”

City Journal: How to Stop Medicaid Fraud

“For more than a decade, Medicaid has been the fastest-growing item on many state budgets. Unfortunately, state and federal efforts to uncover and stamp out the astonishing amount of fraud in the program (whose costs the states split with Washington) have lagged. Experts estimate that abuses of Medicaid eat up at least 10 percent of the program’s total cost nationwide—a waste of $30 billion a year.”

DMReview: Why Master Data Management Is Such a Challenge?

MDM will never be easy. No amount of technology will make it a turnkey operation. There is no single approach that will work for all - or even for most. By nature, MDM needs to be highly customized to the needs of your organization.”

SmartBrief: DHS to phase in Secure Flight program in early 2009

“As the program is phased in early next year, airlines will be required to collect additional information about their passengers — including gender and birth date — while DHS, rather than the airlines, will be responsible for matching the data against terrorist watch lists.”

Daily Insurer: California Man Nabbed in Work Comp Scheme

“Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten announced that Norman Anderson (DOB 10/10/46), of Ventura, was sentenced to serve two years in the California Department of Corrections following his felony conviction of workers’ compensation fraud. Anderson was also ordered to pay $97,425 in restitution to the victim, Signal Mutual Indemnity Association.”

The Two Sides of Entity Resolution

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

By John Talburt, Professor of Information Science and Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Research in Entity Resolution and Information Quality (ERIQ) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock

I have always liked the definition of Entity Resolution put forward by the Infolab at Stanford University  - “locating and merging records that refer to the same real-world entities”.  The reason is that it succinctly describes the two primary facets of entity resolution, namely locating and merging.  If you look at the literature in the area of entity and identity resolution, you generally find that the focus is on one, but not the other.  Until recently, commercial entity resolution has focused almost entirely on the merge side, mainly because the records being processed were coming from databases, flat files, or other structured sources.  In a structured source, the entity attributes, and consequently the identity attributes, are given explicitly.  In this case, most of the work centers on the process of record linking, i.e. assigning a common identifier to records referring to the same entity.  Unfortunately all too many of these record linking processes subscribe to the “matching myth,” the false assumption that two records represent the same entity if and only if their identifying attributes match, but more about that in another article.

However, now I am seeing increasing attention on the locating side of entity resolution.  Locating is required when information is presented in an unstructured format, such as text documents or images. In this case, the entity references must first be located (identified) and extracted in the source before the merging process can take place.  Once considered the purview of academics, the art of “feature extraction” has gone mainstream as organizations realize that they often possess more information in unstructured format than in structured files.  Recent books like Tapping into Unstructured Data by Inmon and Nesavich, and a number of new commercial software packages for processing unstructured data are evidence of this emerging trend.  Interest by the US intelligence community in developing techniques for efficient, large-scale entity extraction has also motivated new research and interest in this area.  Like so many areas of information technology, the advent of low-cost, high-performance computing has opened the door to many new approaches to entity extraction and identification that were not practical before.  Based on some of the work I have seen, I believe we are rapidly approaching a point where the expression “machine readable” will no longer mean just binary encoding, but reading and understanding in a human sense.

Detecting Lottery Fraud Requires Special Expertise and Technology

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

With each new revelation of lottery fraud, the urgency of preventing further occurrences intensifies. It’s now a top line issue for lottery commissions because it threatens to significantly decrease revenue. The danger is that the number of consumers feeling at risk about being paid on a winning ticket could reach a tipping point. An affected lottery could see a substantial decrease in revenue almost overnight, and it’s difficult to predict when that tipping point will be reached.

Detecting and preventing lottery fraud requires a specialized combination of experience and technology. In particular, when lottery fraud is committed by retailers, the people defrauding the system are aware of just how the system works, so the solution has to be able to outsmart people who know all the tricks.

The same can be said for Organized Retail Crime fraud.  These types of crimes cost the retail industry over $40 billion a year. In helping retail customers attack these problems, our identity resolution software churns through enterprise identity data (e.g., employees, merchandise returns, customers, shoplifters, bad check data) to resolve identities and detect hidden relationships.

As with retail, the data to detect lottery fraud is readily available, but solving the crime requires knowledge about handling multiple, disparate data sources and how to find hidden connections using identity resolution. In fact, the parameters of lottery fraud are strikingly similar to retail fraud. Someone who understands how the system works fraudulently fences merchandise (or a winning lottery ticket).  Retailers can check potential fraudsters against a list of employees and known shoplifters, while government-run lotteries can check winners against lists of lottery retailers and – for example - delinquent taxpayers.

Forward-thinking lotteries are quickly moving to exploit solutions based on identity resolution to solve the problem. The risk of declining revenues is just too high to do nothing.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-11-03

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

South Florida Business Journal: Five sentenced in $15M check cashing scheme

“The co-defendants are alleged to have run a scheme using shell companies to funnel more than $15 million through the Atlantic Check Cashing store in Pompano Beach cash-checking store to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums.”

Travel News Gazette: Secure Flight Rule Addresses Concerns of Business Travel Community

“‘The road to final implementation for Secure Flight has been a long and arduous one that has subjected too many travelers to time-consuming and embarrassing searches at our airports and other security checkpoints. We are pleased that TSA is now positioned to move forward with Secure Flight in an effective manner, and that the program will address the business travel community’s concerns as voiced by NBTA,’ commented NBTA Executive Director & COO Bill Connors, CTC.”

Data Strategy Journal: Master Data Management

MDM is one the top three information management-related efforts for 2008 (according to our survey and a few others)…MDM is something you can really sink your teeth into as an information-managed solution that has a great value proposition.”

The Register: Schneier sticks it to surveillance

“Security guru Bruce Schneier has challenged the view that privacy and security are at loggerheads, suggesting the real debate is between liberty and control… He sees ubiquitous surveillance and measures such as identity cards tipping the balance towards the state, describing them as stepping stones towards a future where checks become less obtrusive while simultaneously more all-encompassing.”

Hub Solution Designs: MDM in Tough Economic Times

“Master Data Management projects are typically so compelling that canceling them is like ‘burning the furniture’.”

Now Go Do the Right Thing

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.                                                  – W. Clement Stone

We recently shared a link to an article describing how trucking companies in California illegally mislabeled their drivers as “independent contractors” in order to keep from paying workers’ compensation insurance. The law clearly defines the drivers as “employees” since the companies own the trucks and define everything the drivers do.

Because identity resolution software is often used to detect fraudulent behavior, we continually hear of instances like this one where people try to cut corners or take unfair advantage or flat out cheat other people and companies in ways that often involve obscuring identity information. People try to game software systems and cheat in areas like workers’ compensation, online commerce, lotteries, retail, airlines, insurance, social networking, and others. (You can read more on our web site and in previous blog posts here.)

Almost all of us know the right way and the wrong way to do things. Sadly, we sometimes choose to ignore that inner voice when it benefits us, even though it may harm someone else. OK, so we can’t fix the world with a blog post, but it’s hard not to speculate what the world might be like if we all tried to do the right thing all the time.

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