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Combatting fraud within the retail sector: how open-source intelligence can help detect and prevent fraud

Author: Lauren Bradley
Date: April 2023

Fraud is the number one cause of crime in the UK with figures from the latest version of Cifas’ report Fraudscapeshowing that 2022 saw the highest volume of cases ever recorded to the National Fraud Database. Of the 409,000 cases reported, identity fraud soared by 23%, and now accounts for 68% of all cases filed by Cifas members.  The BRC Crime Report 20222, reported that the overall loss for retailers was an astounding £786m with over £76m lost in online theft and fraud alone. In this blog we look at how open source intelligence (OSINT) can complement retailers existing data and software tools to improve the help detect and prevent retail fraud.


Fraud teams within the retail industry already use a variety of tools and techniques to uncover fraudulent activities, such as:

– Fraud detection software, which will be used to identify suspicious transactions or patterns of behaviour.

– Transaction monitoring tools, used to analyse transactions to identify potential fraud.

– Video surveillance, which can be used to monitor transactions and identify potential fraudsters.

These are important tools, but open-source intelligence can also be extremely valuable for investigations, some examples below:

– The data can be used to gather information on individuals or organisations that are suspected of committing fraud. By scouring public sources such as social media platforms, online forums, and news articles, investigators can gain insight into the activities of potential suspects.

– It can be used to verify information provided by suspects or witnesses. Investigators can cross-check the information against publicly available data to ensure its accuracy.

– Ability to monitor social media activity of potential suspects or key witnesses, to gain an insight into their activities, behaviours, and connections.

– Can search selling sites such as eBay and Gumtree for your stolen goods.

– Conduct background checks on potential employees or partners. Investigators can gather information from public sources to verify employment history, education, and other credentials.

What does that mean for a fraud team? How can a fraud team best utilise open-source intelligence?

The open-source intelligence collated will add valuable insights into potential fraudulent activities and help your investigators build a more complete picture of the situation; however, there are several challenges:

Open source can also yield too many results which can slow down an investigation, leading you to need something to better filter the results.

Inevitably, you will be combining your open-source results with other data, so is there a way to combine those data sources together more effectively and faster?

The addition of that extra data is an opportunity but can also be a burden for fraud investigators as, if you are doing numerous fraud reviews per day, it can limit your decision-making time even further.

Data aggregation and open-source intelligence 

Synalogik’s data aggregation and automation platform Scout® offers an open-source intelligence tool as part of its package.

Scout® enables you to create targeted automated searches around keywords, timeframe, and document type, eliminating false positives, and getting you to the right information in seconds.

You can select from or customise tried and tested OSint templates for your industry, benefiting from the experience within the Synalogik OSINT team and our wide customer base in both the public and private sectors.

The Scout® OSint builder is sufficiently advanced to allow you to only retrieve results linked to your inputs, by putting filters around the location of the results, the timeframe when they were created and even the type of document on the web.

Significantly reduce the number of results by adding keywords of relevance and templating those searches for ongoing use.

Exclude or include results from specific webpages of interest to avoid false positives.

In addition, Scout® provides the capability to run search and risk assessment workflows across all your chosen data sources simultaneously and get reports in seconds and export in PDF, CSV, or to a CRM.

For more information on Scout and to hear case studies on how we are helping retailers utilise open-source intelligence for their fraud investigations, contact us today at


  1. Cifas, This is Fraudscape 2023,
  2. BRC Crime Report,
Lauren Bradley
Lauren is Sales Manager for the Private Sector here at Synalogik, she is the commercial lead for retail, hospitality, transport and logistics.Lauren works with organisations across multiple sectors to introduce Scout and improve their enhanced due diligence.