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CASE STUDY: Leveraging Self-Service Analytics to Identify and Mitigate Fraud

June 3, 2019

Prerequisite: None

Scott Peacock

Scott Peacock

Director of Analytics & Insights, Global Investigations


With a diverse and highly talented cadre of analysts and investigators, Walmart Global Investigations strives to identify and mitigate risk stemming from large-scale organized retail crime, high-level corporate fraud, and other significant risks to brand and company reputation. Through investigative efforts and analytical review, Global Investigations became aware of a significant nationwide social engineering fraud scheme occurring at Walmart and Sam's Club stores across the United States.

Though the approach varied somewhat from one instance of the scheme to the next, the final result remained consistent across each event as the “bad actors” were able to successfully load high-value gift cards and other third-party gift cards without actually tendering any payment during transactions. This activity resulted in significant shortages and caused financial losses to affected stores.

While simultaneously working with operational business partners to formulate policy changes and process improvements to mitigate the risk, Global Investigations also began working on a way to identify the high-risk transactions in real time so that immediate corrective action could be taken to not only stem the losses and identify the perpetrators but also to recover the fraudulently obtained funds before the bad actors had a chance to profit from them.

By leveraging automated, repeatable ETL workflows that connected disparate transactional data repositories and publishing the resulting data to an informational dashboard, Walmart Global Investigations was able to not only identify the fraudulent activity in near real-time but deliver the intelligence to investigators and other business stakeholders so that corrective risk mitigation measures could be taken. The ETL workflow, data visualizations, and risk mitigation processes have proven to be highly successful resulting in millions of dollars of loss being averted and returned to the affected stores.

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