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Common fraud phrases revealed

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


Ernst & Young’s fraud investigation team has used the new software, to pinpoint the exact language used in email conversations when fraud is occurring.

It can also identify unusual changes in tone that suggest an underlying problem and can be targeted to specific sectors, particularly traders.

According to the advisory firm, some of the most common phrases used by fraudsters include “cover up”, “nobody will find out”, “off the books”, “grey area” and “failed investment”.

The software of 3,000 keywords also looks for phrases that indicate an employee is nervous of eavesdropping, such as “call my mobile” and “come by office”.

The top 10 fraud words and phrases in email conversations are:

1. Cover up
2. Write off
3. Illegal
4. Failed investment
5. Nobody will find out
6. Grey area
7. They owe it to me
8. Do not volunteer information
9. Not ethical
10. Off the books

Dr Rashmi Joshi, director of Ernst & Young's Fraud Investigation & Disputes Services, said: “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 – initially anonymously – but with the potential for investigation where a consistent pattern of potential fraud is flagged.”

Read more about the fraud on Ernst & Young’s website.

Please note: Action Fraud is not responsible for the content on external websites.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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