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For financial gumshoes, tech is the new focus

The top fighters of financial crime are gathered in San Antonio this week, and it's not just gumshoes. Merchants, credit card companies and banks are well represented.

Kai Ryssdal: If you think of the world's top crime fighters getting together to tackle the biggest security problems we have, you picture...what? Hushed meetings in the corridors of power? Maybe a dark hallway somewhere in Washington, D.C.?

How 'bout a Marriott in downtown San Antonio that's swamped with out-of-towners? That'd be a good bet, 'cause that's where the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators is meeting this week. We sent Andrew Oxford to get in on the fun.


Andrew Oxford: CIA headquarters, it’s not. But it is a nice Marriot.

My mission here is to find out what the leading minds in the world of financial crime do when they get together in one big room.  Turns out they talk a lot about technology -- how to protect the billions of dollars that fly around the globe electronically every day. And it’s not just gumshoes who are here.

James Gaughran: We’ve got banking -- domestic banks, Australian banks, European banks, Canadian banks. Any type of retail.

James Gaughran is the head of the group putting on this year’s meeting. He says technology has changed the way everyone handles money, not just consumers.

Gaughran: You have your organized crime groups in different regions of the world. They all use similar techniques to generate cash.

Trying to stay ahead of the curve is Eric de Los Santos, a young deputy U.S. Marshal from Texas. He comes from a a generation that isn’t baffled by how to program their DVR -- the kind of guys you need.

Eric de Los Santos: Young, new guys are coming in -- new investigators -- they're bringing with them what they've grown up with.

And with businesses rolling out new ways to take electronic payments every day, De Los Santos knows criminals won’t be far behind. That’s one of the reasons he’s here at this conference -- to keep one step ahead.

In San Antonio, I’m Andrew Oxford for Marketplace. 

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