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“Nobody will find out” and other phrases commonly used in emails by fraudsters

  • Zachary M. Seward
By Zachary M. Seward

Co-founder and CEO of Quartz

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Ernst & Young says a study it conducted in collaboration with the FBI has turned up 3,000 words and phrases commonly used in emails by people committing fraud, from the obvious (“cover up”) to the obscure (“special fees”) to the cinematic (“call my mobile”).

The accounting firm suggests that companies interested in rooting out fraud should proactively monitor employee email for those terms—using software developed by Ernst & Young, of course. We’d note that you’ll only catch third-rate fraudsters that way, though instant-message transcripts recently released in the Libor scandal suggest there are a lot of those.

Here are the top 15 terms used in emails discussing fraud:

  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
  11. Backdate
  12. No inspection
  13. Pull earnings forward
  14. Special fees
  15. Friendly payments

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