BT fights fraud with SHERIFF

Anti-fraud technology has been commercially released by British Telecom and MCI in order to protect an industry currently losing around $5 billion a year.

The SHERIFF system will be used to detect and block fraudulent use of BT's card based services anywhere in the world. Although they may be extremely complicated to illegally access, advanced methods do still allow this to happen.

The system, which stands for, Statistical Heuristic Engine to Reliability and Intelligently Fight Fraud, is built around BT's proprietary analysis of fraud patterns and is underpinned by database technology from Versant Object Technology. After a warning has been issued, specialised staff will be on hand to decide whether to cancel the call, put a bar on a card or turn off a mobile phone.

The service can be provided for many services, for example on BT charge card calls. Dave Woods, the Technical Manager for SHERIFF, explained: "If we were to see calls from the United States to China on a BT charge card and that card user normally only made domestic calls, SHERIFF would look at the call records, run a series of checks, and then, if necessary raise the alarm to an operator."

As well as charge card crimes, another extremely vulnerable area is dial-through fraud where a call to a voice-mail system can be directed to another number.

BT and MCI have followed an 18 month developmental phase but a full scale rollout on all BT's public telecom networks is due in two or three years time.