Redlands, California-The United States Postal Service (USPS) Bank Service Act (BSA) Compliance Office is taking advantage of geographic information system (GIS) technology from ESRI to effectively detect suspicious activity, using sophisticated analysis and mapping to monitor millions of money order transactions across the United States. GIS maps show where suspicious activities may be occurring and link transactional data to reveal potential criminal patterns. Mapping and analysis also help USPS managers make sense of extensive transactional databases and millions of bits of data to ensure they comply with regulations.
“There are a number of federal anti-money-laundering laws and regulations that
directly impact the Postal Service as an issuer of money orders,” says Al
Gillum, subject matter expert for the United States Postal Service BSA
Compliance Office. “We have responsibilities to monitor transactions and
identify potentially suspicious activity through postal money orders. We
recognized GIS as a powerful tool to look at all our data. We can use it to
bring data together, analyze it, and share it with others. We can then make
decisions that are based on good intelligence.”
The USPS BSA Compliance Office launched a pilot project to test a Web-based GIS
application, which proved to be a success, and the department began using GIS
full-time in 2006.
The agency deploys Information Builders’ enterprise business intelligence
system, WebFOCUS, which
uses ESRI’s ArcIMS technology for its GIS functionality. WebFOCUS integrates a
wide variety of data from diverse operational databases throughout USPS. It
provides Web-based geoanalysis and reporting tools that the USPS BSA Compliance
Office uses to carry out tasks in a fast and efficient manner.
The BSA Compliance Office can identify a post office or series of offices that
have an unusually high number of suspicious money orders over a certain time
period; view money orders that look suspicious, such as a large number of
sequentially numbered money orders; or see where unusual money order
transactions have occurred. The office can also determine whether a number of
money orders have been purchased from numerous locations and have been cashed at
a single location. The data is used not only to investigate suspicious activity
and apprehend suspects but also to prosecute criminals.
The USPS BSA Compliance Office is looking at ways to further extend its GIS
capabilities. It is contemplating integrating the technology into its Office of
Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) compliance programs and considering how the
technology can be used to detect the fraudulent use of debit cards at post
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GIS Gives United States Postal Service a Crime-Fighting Edge
November 10, 2008