News of the investigation comes roughly two months after the London-based company was accused of secretly harvesting the personal data of at least 87 million Facebook users to better identify individuals that could be targeted and influenced by specific marketing material.
Federal investigators have reportedly questioned potential witnesses, including former employees and banks that conducted business with the company, a U.S. official and other people familiar with the probe told the Times.
The DOJ declined to comment, while the FBI did not immediately respond to a query.
The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency is conducting its own investigation into whether the firm violated the country’s Data Protection Act, the Times reported. The agency is looking into allegations that Cambridge Analytica employees may have sought to bribe foreign officials, tampered with evidence and hacked computers.
Cambridge Analytica announced earlier in May that it planned to close all of its operations and file for bankruptcy in the United States, reportedly as a result of rising legal fees and a loss of clients after it was outed for harvesting Facebook users’ data.
In a statement on its website, the firm said it has been the subject of “numerous unfounded accusations” and “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.”
Shortly after news of the breach surfaced, the firm announced an independent investigation into its practices. The results of that investigation, which were shared on the company’s website, stated that the allegations against the firm were not “borne out by the facts.
When asked for comment on the DOJ investigation, a Cambridge Analytica press representative sent HuffPost a copy of the company’s internal probe.
Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign hired Cambridge Analytica
but the company has denied that it used data acquired through Facebook to assist Trump’s efforts to win the election.
Secret recordings of Cambridge Analytica executives appeared to capture them bragging about helping elect Trump by using “unattributable and untraceable” advertising and attack ads, according to an undercover report by British news station Channel 4.
Facebook first learned in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was harvesting users’ data but failed to follow up after the firm allegedly promised to delete the information, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said in April.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has since apologized for not doing more to protect users’ data and vowed to increase privacy and security standards. Zuckerberg also testified before Senate and House committees to answer questions about Facebook users’ data protections.