Top email terms used by corporate fraudsters published by FBI

'Cover up' tops list while 'nobody will find out' and 'grey area' also in top 10

Software developed by the FBI and Ernst & Young has revealed the most common words used in email conversations among employees engaged in corporate fraud.

The software, which was developed using the knowledge gained from real life corporate fraud investigations, pinpoints and tracks common fraud phrases like "cover up", "write off", "failed investment", "off the books", "nobody will find out" and "grey area".

Expressions such as "special fees" and "friendly payments" are most common in bribery cases, while fears of getting caught are shown in phrases such as "no inspection" and "do not volunteer information".

In total more than 3,000 terms are logged by the technology, which monitors for conversations within the "fraud triangle", where pressure, rationalisation, and opportunity meet, said the FBI and Ernst & Young.

The analytics software also scans for "out of band" events such as "call my mobile" or "come by my office", suggesting the individual does not want to be overheard.

The software can also flag uncharacteristic changes in tone and language in conversations, and has been tailored for specific sectors, particularly traders.

Rashmi Joshi, director of Ernst & Young's fraud investigation and disputes services, said: "Despite being the prime means of all conversations unstructured email data plays almost no role in the compliance efforts of firms.

"Most often such email traffic is only seized upon by regulators or fraud investigators when the damage has been done. Firms are increasingly seeking to proactively search for specific trends and red flags."

The top fraud words and phrases in email conversations:

Cover upWrite offIllegalFailed investmentNobody will find outGrey areaThey owe it to meDo not volunteer informationNot ethicalOff the books

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