Thursday, February 2, 2012


Has this ever happened to you ? You run a prospective client through your best high-risk database and get a negative. You then search the Internet for any recent major newspaper or magazine articles, and find out, to your dismay, that he is a major financial criminal. Why didn't your favourite database alert you to the danger ? The answers may surprise you.

(1) It is impossible to keep all the entries current, especially where there are more than one million individuals and entities in a database. Did you check to see when it was last updated ? How many years ago, please ? Can they update it for you by request ?

(2) If you performed an exact name search, the database will ignore even minute variations in spelling. Are you sure you have his correct name ? Financial criminals delight in changing one letter of their names, knowing full well that it confounds the computer. Remember, always supplement your exact name search with phonetic searches, and partial name searches. You may not have the individual's name right, or he may use a number of aliases. Doers your database cover known aliases ?

(3) Was the name transliterated from a language and alphabet that uses different ( i.e. non-Roman) characters ? Perhaps the translation is inaccurate, or it does not meet commonly-accepted standards for equivalent letters. If so, there may be a number of alternative spellings. have you checked them all ?

What about the flip side, where you get a positive, but the client says it is either incorrect, incomplete, or inaccurate ?

(1) Did the case occur in a jurisdiction where justice has a price ? Does the Rule of Law exist where the conviction occurred, or is it suspect by virtue of the jurisdiction itself ? Be sure before you act on such criminal history records.

(2) Was the client's criminal case filed purely for political, religious, or racial reasons ? If so, can you ignore it?

What I am saying is clear: do not blindly accept what you get from your database search as gospel, no more that you accept unaccredited information from the Internet. Check out the story behind the entry before you reject the client, based solely upon what the database tell you. They have been known to be wrong, outdated and incorrect.

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