SFU computing science professor Jian Pei is one of five SFU researchers to receive NSERC Strategic Partnership grants. Pei's research is focused on helping fraud investigators make the best use of their data.


Creating new tools to improve work of fraud investigators

February 20, 2017

New research underway in Simon Fraser University’s School of Computing Science aims to improve next steps for fraud investigators after detection systems have turned up a suspect. 

Funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)’s Strategic Partnership Grants for Projects is helping SFU computing science professor Jian Pei develop new methods and tools for organizations, to ensure they make the best possible decisions for their businesses.

“Typically, after a fraud detection system returns suspects, human investigators have to examine those suspects manually; more often than not, that can be very costly,” says Pei.

“A fraud investigator has to strive for accurate decisions that are best for business. We’re investigating how a systematic data science approach can support human investigators, and help them do their work effectively.”

One cost-effective approach may be to combine data on similar suspect investigations, enabling investigators to glean more available data and transfer knowledge between these cases.

Pei says investigations can also be efficiently planned so that the gains from recovered cases can be maximized under various constraints in business, such as within a budget on investigation cost and the amount of extra interaction with customers. 

"Fraud detection is critical for many organizations, including insurance companies, financial institutions, governments, police, law enforcement units, as well as retail companies,” says Pei.

“Our approach is to see how these organizations can more efficiently make use of data while managing the complexities of their business objectives, and given the practical constraints of day-to-day business.” 

Pei is one of five SFU researchers awarded NSERC funding with a combined worth of more than $2.1 million. The recipients are among 94 researchers nationally to receive more than $50 million towards next-generation sustainable technologies.

"SFU's vision is to be the leading engaged university defined by its dynamic integration of innovation and cutting edge research," says Joy Johnson, SFU's vice-president, research and international. "Professor Pei's work is a testament to our vision and the power of innovative research."

 Others from SFU to receive the NSERC grants include:

• Biologist Erika Plettner, whose research will help beekeepers who arelooking for new mite control agents to use in sustainable, integrated management programs;

• Chemist Steven Holdcroft, who is working with a team of leading scientists to reduce the ‘materials’ costs of fuels cells so that manufacturers can remain competitive;

Farid Golnaraghi, director of SFU’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, who is developing an inexpensive MEMS (Micro-Electro Mechanical system) gyroscope, used in cellphones, digital media and games, and wearable devices;

• Engineering science professor Rodney Vaughan, who will draw on new theoretical breakthroughs in signal cancellation from radio science, and new practical breakthroughs in advanced materials, to better understand sound control performance limits to improve systems and create new applications.