Are you considering committing fraud? Do you plan to discuss your activities over email? Are you unaware of the fact that writing things like, “Nobody will find out” or “I’ll leave a garbage bag filled with our ill-gotten gains in the dumpster out back” might help tip off people looking to crack down on crime? If you answered yes to all of the above, this information could actually be of use to you:
Phrases such as “nobody will find out”, “cover up” and “off the books” are among those most likely to litter the in-boxes of corporate rogues according to fraud investigators deploying increasingly popular linguistic software. Expressions such as “special fees” and “friendly payments” abound for those embroiled in bribery cases, while rogue employees feeling the heat are likeliest to write that they “want no part of this” as well as the somewhat misguided “don’t leave a trail”.
More than 3,000 such words and phrases used in email conversations among employees engaged in corporate wrongdoing have been identified through specialist anti-fraud technology, according to research by Ernst & Young based on evidence from corporate investigations in conjunction with the FBI. “The language, which is a mix of accounting phrases, personal motivations and attempts to conceal, are very revealing,” said Rashmi Joshi, Ernst & Young’s director of fraud investigation and disputes services. He said that the monitoring of email traffic played almost no role in the compliance efforts of companies looking for possible problems. “While most organisations only focus on the numbers when investigating discrepancies, what we are seeing are ways of analysing words – emails, SMS or instant messaging – to identify and isolate wrongdoing.”