Realistic Synthetic Financial Transactions for Anti-Money Laundering Models

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Datasets and Benchmarks Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Erik Altman, Jovan Blanuša, Luc von Niederhäusern, Beni Egressy, Andreea Anghel, Kubilay Atasu


With the widespread digitization of finance and the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, the sophistication of fraud schemes devised by cybercriminals is growing. Money laundering -- the movement of illicit funds to conceal their origins -- can cross bank and national boundaries, producing complex transaction patterns. The UN estimates 2-5\% of global GDP or \$0.8 - \$2.0 trillion dollars are laundered globally each year. Unfortunately, real data to train machine learning models to detect laundering is generally not available, and previous synthetic data generators have had significant shortcomings. A realistic, standardized, publicly-available benchmark is needed for comparing models and for the advancement of the area.To this end, this paper contributes a synthetic financial transaction dataset generator and a set of synthetically generated AML (Anti-Money Laundering) datasets. We have calibrated this agent-based generator to match real transactions as closely as possible and made the datasets public. We describe the generator in detail and demonstrate how the datasets generated can help compare different machine learning models in terms of their AML abilities. In a key way, using synthetic data in these comparisons can be even better than using real data: the ground truth labels are complete, whilst many laundering transactions in real data are never detected.