Traders' email messages give frauds away, study shows

 

Rogue traders capable of losing banks and other financial institutions billions in illegal or unauthorised transactions could be caught before their losses soar too high by analysing their email exchanges with colleagues, new research has found.

An analysis of previous corporate investigations has uncovered that the same phrases crop up time and again in messages sent between corrupt employees. The most common is “cover up”, whilst “off the books”, “write off” and “they owe it to me” feature in the top 10.

Software developed by accountancy firm Ernst & Young together with the FBI has identified 3,000 examples of the potentially incriminating phrases which if identified early enough could save companies millions of pounds in lost profits.

Those who fear being caught may also give themselves away by using phrases such as “do not volunteer information”. Traders under pressure can signal danger by telling colleagues they “want no part of this” or are “not comfortable”. The system can also be applied to SMS and instant messaging.

Dr Rashmi Joshi, director of Ernst & Young fraud investigation and disputes services, said too often regulators and investigators only begin examining emails when it is already too late.

She said: “Emails, sent in their thousands, between employees, officials, and external parties form the major part of what is mostly positive daily interaction in companies. Despite being the prime means of all conversations, such unstructured data plays almost no role in the compliance efforts of firms.”

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