A joint investigation with the bank and Interpol revealed child trafficking under the guise of a chain of clinics (Photo: ShutterStock, no)
Money laundering, fintech crimes, terrorist financing, human trafficking, all of these sound like a Hollywood script from a fictional action movie, but unfortunately as the years pass and the technological age develops, not only does the crime become more and more sophisticated, but also the power of human evil that knows how to use this technology for evil as well .
"There has always been financial terrorism," says Mark Gazit, president and CEO of the Israeli company ThetaRay, which provides AI-based technology to fight financial crimes in international money transfers, which include terrorist financing, money laundering, and drug financing and human trafficking. The company monitors more than 11 billion transactions In a year with a total value of more than 15 trillion dollars belonging to more than a billion accounts worldwide.
"In the era of Al Pacino they said "Polo de Money", we did not invent it.
This terrorism has always been here."
Many people do not really understand what it is exactly,
"Technology does help us discover these things, but unfortunately it also helps the bad people."
What is the main crime, terrorist financing?
"Not only that, unfortunately also human trafficking. Terrorist financing may kill more people, but when I think of girls being sold it's terrible, especially as I have three daughters myself. Terrorist financing is alive all the time. Terrorist organizations need money to finance their activities, to send equipment And more. In the traditional banking system, it is impossible to transfer money to Hezbollah, for example, which is recognized as a terrorist organization, so they found a creative solution. In an era where it is easier to open a bank account and a person's physical presence is not required, this is also possible."
What is their solution?
"For example, they opened a network of fake seamstresses, who registered as seamstresses, received all the licenses and even increased the production and shipping of fabrics. And that's how it happens, easily."
Mark Gazit, President and CEO of ThetaRay (Photo: Public Relations)
The horrific crime that was prevented
Gazit is one of the most fascinating people I have met recently.
When he was a teenager he adopted a hobby of cracking locks, dismantling watches, a hobby that continues to this day (and we'll get to it later), and was someone who was called a "good hacker" in the high school in Jerusalem where he studied.
Gazit's hacking abilities and his great talent in deciphering were seen from afar, and in the army he was also recruited into a classified unit of the Air Force, and later to a kind of "good hacker" who tests security software for banks.
His career in the field of high tech was paved, he served as a director and senior CEO of groundbreaking technology companies and as a partner on many boards. Today he is considered a world-renowned expert in the growth of companies in the fields of cyber security, artificial intelligence, fintech, and big data analytics. He was recently recognized by The Mirror Review as one of the 30 most inspiring business leaders and he serves as a mentor who always finds the time to help young entrepreneurs who want to develop in the field.
His current company ThetaRay offers a solution based on artificial intelligence, which helps enforce sanctions, fights financial crimes and enables financial institutions to provide reliable and cheap banking services to everyone.
Its solution, which simulates human intuition, can stop sophisticated attempts to launder money, circumvent economic and commercial sanctions, prevent financial crime and help governments and financial institutions maintain uninterrupted global banking activity.
The smart system that works almost all over the world with the biggest banks and financial institutions, even managed not long ago to block a shipment of human trafficking, only because it caught on to it in time.
"Our system detected at one of the largest banks in the world, a series of actions that looked like suspicion of human trafficking. There are all kinds of characteristics that the system detects, and then the correct process is that the artificial intelligence alerts, there are departments in each bank and they have to take this data, ask the customers to compromise thing, then stop the payments.
Unfortunately, not all banks do this.
Whoever is responsible does.
In this case, the bank followed the book, stopped the payments, contacted the bodies asking what you are doing, and in this case informed and because the money was transferred from different countries in this case Ukraine, the same body contacted the local police and Interpol." Do you usually receive such alerts? "We don't
know , in this specific case which was special, after three weeks the bank calls us and shares that Interpol has identified that it is an extensive network of child trafficking.
Under the auspices of organizations that are a kind of clinics for children.
Make it a logical cover.
And that's where they send the money and the childhood.
It happened thanks to the system.
Fortunately, because the money did not reach its destination, the girls were not sent away and were saved.
I know there are cases where they don't update us, and additional cases of places that don't have elaborate systems and they miss out.
We see how artificial intelligence and the willingness of the banks to work correctly and the quick action of enforcement forces literally saved hundreds if not thousands of girls."
The question that I assume many are asking, how in the age of cyber security can something like this still happen?
"Technology develops and is not used in the end only us, but also the "bad guys".
In payment systems, most banks today use systems that are 50 years old, it is impossible to know all the many financial systems that exist today.
Once upon a time when there were few banks it was easier to follow.
But what worked fine twenty years or even a decade ago, stopped working completely during the corona virus.
Today it is easier to open a bank account remotely.
What we are doing today is to use very advanced artificial intelligence, which has made a revolution and is able to say whether this or that transfer of money is standard or not."
More in Walla!
A smart test detects an increased risk of stroke - now on special sale
Served on behalf of Shachel
Cracking locks in the service of the good, as a way of life (Photo: ShutterStock)
Crack the human lock
And here is some Israeli pride.
Precisely in 2022, which was considered a bad year in the high-tech market, the company grew threefold, and it currently serves, among other things, the banks in the Emirates.
The only Israeli company that does this.
"On the one hand, we protect the banking system, but on the other hand, we also allow the banks to transfer more money. This means that we not only protect against the "bad guys" but also enable the good things. We cooperate, for example, with entities in Africa that find it difficult to reach financial entities because ordinary banks simply We don't want to work with them."
Gazit, was one of the founders of the first internet provider Netvizen, along with Ruti Alon, and managed several large international companies in software protection issues.
He served as the acting CEO of NASDQ-listed NICE Cyber & Intelligence Solutions, a company that provides Homeland Security solutions for governments, law enforcement agencies, security and intelligence agencies. Before that, he served as the group's president, and CEO
To Iris's heart protector who is sitting in the conversation with us, you actually caught my ear when you said "a good hacker", so we won't call you a 'hacker', but how did you get into this field that makes a beautiful connection with your hobby of locks and mechanisms?
"Very complicated systems interested me. I studied at a school inside the university, then we had access to unsophisticated computers and somehow I really wanted to know the password of the operator there, and I managed to do it. It was in an era when few knew what the Internet was anymore."
This is the stage in the conversation that Gazit pulls out a sophisticated cylinder lock from the desk drawer and shows it to me, along with a safe breaking tool.
"I have several of these. I can't be in a situation where I'm not solving a system. It drives me crazy. Mainly large systems. That's why all the companies I manage are international companies with a lot of moving parts. And you know, investors and subscribers, regulators from different countries, most of the people They treat it as a headache, and I actually like it a lot."
Gazit says that in addition to dismantling the lock, he was always interested in the human factor associated with these systems.
"I liked taking apart clocks, but I loved putting them back together the most. I tried to understand what was in the thinking of that person who built the clock. As I got older, I discovered that instrumentation systems work like this. I can't see a lock that I can't understand how it's built. That's why I have one at home Some safes I bought just to come and take care of it and hacking tools."
This is the stage where he suggests I try the office safe and put my credit card inside.
"And again, why do I have these tools? Because that's ultimately what we do, we need to know the system and how to hack it to protect it in the best possible way."
He tells of a terrible experience of one of the largest banks in the world, which years ago fell into a sophisticated criminal system of money laundering and drug trafficking that was done by simply taking over ATMs.
"They didn't want to tell us exactly what happened, they just asked that our system go through the data and check if there is anything improper. After we gave them the results, of course they took the system."
Gazit explains that financial crime stems from the fact that the systems are linked to each other, and at that time the particular country in Latin America used a lot of cash.
"The hackers were smart, and didn't break into the ATM like the software system that managed to infect ten thousand devices that silently took out 6 times more bills late at night at a street corner without anyone noticing."
The million dollar question, how does it work?
We know artificial intelligence but we also know that it needs to be fed with enough information so that it doesn't make mistakes like GPT chat who once wrote something positive about Hitler
"What is needed is an artificial intelligence that understands how a normal system works, in order to catch those that work in an unusual way. A good spy tries to conduct himself in the most similar way to the normal way, but one day he will have to do something in a way that he is not used to and then he is caught. It works on A similar principle.
In espionage agencies there is an axiom that says that every planted spy behaves just like an ordinary resident of that country and then he cannot be caught. He will only be caught if one day he has to do something for which he was sent. The same in our system: when money passes then there is no suspicion, Because we all transfer money. But one day the payments will be made in an unusual way.
As for the intelligence, it's something that is constantly evolving. Our system learns the language, not documents but banking operations and monitors more than a billion users in the world, and more than 10 billion operations a year. It's artificial intuition And like a child, the more he learns, the better he gets, each in his own field."
According to Gazit, society's challenge today is to neutralize those who misuse technology, and to continue to prevent transactions for the purposes of terrorism, human trafficking, and money laundering.
"I know that if the operation was signed by us, it is a safe place and will shorten the money transfers, and that is what we strive for. To allow the good to travel on the highway without interruption, and the bad to be stopped on the way."
And one more question that bothers me personally, can't artificial intelligence be smarter than us one day, to the extent that it might endanger us?
"I manage company after company that adopt really very advanced technologies, and I remember that at the beginning I was constantly looking at the past, and I saw that every new technology disturbed the world in some way. Even when printing was invented, they said it would kill human memory and people would no longer remember stories.
But the plus is that these technologies have given us immeasurably added value compared to the disadvantages.
And we do have to understand that progress always benefits the other side as well, and in order to win the game we must train artificial intelligence to be our digital guardian, so that in the cat and mouse game of the good and the bad, the good will continue to win."