Financial Fraud Is On the Rise. Here's How OSINT Is Combating It


We’ve all gotten that email or text. You know, the one that says we’re the heir to millions of dollars if we only send them a release fee or provide them with our bank account number for direct deposit. By now, many of us are catching on to those types of scams, but the thieves are getting smarter even as the tools used to fight financial fraud are becoming more sophisticated. These days, combating financial crimes starts with open source intelligence (OSINT) tools like using a phone number reverse lookup API or a reverse email lookup API. Here’s how it works.

Catch Them At the Start

The key to halting financial crimes is to stop them before they ever start. Once a fraudster gets a foothold inside a financial institution, it’s much harder to catch them and prevent them from stealing money from their customers. As a result, financial institutions are using APIs that provide OSINT tools to automate identity verification.

For example, a bank can run a reverse phone number or email lookup on someone attempting to access an account to verify they are who they say they are. If the phone number or email comes back as potentially fraudulent, the bank is able to flag the account for further investigation.

They won’t allow them to access the account until they’re able to verify their identity with 100% certainty. If they’re truly legitimate, that will be determined, but if they’re not, the bank is able to prevent fraud before it happens.

Prevent Counterfeit Bills

Another form of fraud that financial and government officials have been trying to fight for hundreds of years is the use of counterfeit money. Passing fake bills can cost banks millions of dollars, and smaller institutions simply can’t afford to suffer such a large-scale fraud. OSINT tools can help catch counterfeit bills by creating a database of serial numbers and comparing the serial number on a bill to the database. This is a much more effective way to catch fake bills than relying on a person to catch them from examination alone.

Investigating Crimes

Of course, no matter how proactive financial institutions are, some fraud is going to occur. Using OSINT tools can help stop a lot of it, but what about people or institutions that have already been defrauded. OSINT can assist there too. Investigators can use OSINT tools like reverse email and phone lookup to track down the entity behind the fraudulent activity.

For instance, if the fraud is initiated by text, a reverse phone number lookup is usually the first step toward tracing the perpetrator. It might not be the only piece of information that the investigator needs to catch the crook, but it will be one piece of the puzzle that will all come together to take the fraudster down.


Cybercrime is on the rise and new scams are cropping up all the time. OSINT is almost always the first tool used to catch a financial criminal or to detect a financial crime in progress. Financial institutions can’t rely on old technology to prevent fraud. They need to incorporate OSINT into their processes to catch a more sophisticated brand of criminal.

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