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Leading AML expert says traditional identity checking ‘soon obsolete’

John Dobson says increasing sophistication among fraudsters and launderers means traditional electronic and paper methods are easy to swerve.

Nigel Lewis

electronic identity aml

The days of agents checking their clients’ identity using traditional methods are rapidly coming to an end, a leading anti-money laundering (AML) firm has warned as the FCA clamps down on dirty money across the economy.

New technology and the huge boom in property sales since the stamp duty holiday was announced mean using scanned utility bills, emailed references and other admin-heavy and paper-based methods are rapidly becoming obsolete, says John Dobson, CEO of SmartSearch.

Link to Anti-Money Laundering feature“Carrying out due diligence as part of this process is essential in the prevention of AML,” he says (pictured).

“Having mostly moved to remote onboarding, estate agents should consider the best ways to effectively and efficiently verify customer identity.”

Dobson says the use of electronic verification to complete KYC, AML and to check sanctions and Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) lists can now be done in seconds rather than hours.

“With digital processes replacing traditional analogue methods in virtually all other industries, it feels antiquated to rely on hard-copy documents,” he says.

“Forgeries are so sophisticated now that even an expert would struggle to discern them at face value.

“These forgeries are no longer the work of master criminals; anyone with rudimentary photo-editing skills can digitally alter a photo of ID, bank statement, payslip or utility bill that will easily by-pass the eye-test.

“Electronic verification is the answer to this threat.”

EV combines credit reference data, biometric facial recognition, digital fraud checks as well as electoral roll data and other reliable public sources to verify identity.

July 23, 2021

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