日期:2012-10-31 16:58


Corporate fraud
Mind your language
How linguistic software helps companies catch crooks
IN THE film "Superman 3", a lowly computer programmer (played by Richard Pryor, pictured) embezzles a fat wad of money from his employer.
在电影《超人3》中,一位地位低的电脑程序员(上图,理查德?普莱尔[Richard Pryor]饰演)盗走雇主一大笔钱。
The boss laments that it will be hard to catch the thief, because "he won't do a thing to call attention to himself. Unless, of course, he is a complete and utter moron."
Just then the thief screeches into the car park in a brand new red sports car, radio blaring.
In the real world, embezzlers are seldom so obvious.
The traditional way to snare them is to hire an accountant to scrutinise accounts for anomalies.
But this is like looking for a contact lens in a snowdrift.
So firms are turning to linguistic software to narrow the search.
Rip-offs tend to occur in what gumshoes call the "fraud triangle": where incentive, rationalisation and opportunity meet.
To spot staff with the incentive to steal (over and above the obvious fact that money is quite useful), anti-fraud software scans e-mails for evidence of money troubles.
Phrases like "under the gun" and "make sales quota" can indicate that an employee is desperate for a bit extra.
Spotting rationalisation is harder.
One technique is to identify those who seem unhappy about their jobs, since some may rationalise wrongdoing by telling themselves that their employer is an evil corporation that deserves to be ripped off.
Ernst & Young (E&Y), a consultancy, offers software that purports to show an employee's emotional state over time: spikes in trend-lines reading "confused", "secretive" or "angry" help investigators know whose e-mail to check, and when.
Other software can help firms find potential malefactors moronic enough to gripe online, says Jean-Fran?ois Legault of Deloitte, another consultancy.
还有其他软件可以帮助公司发现在网上抱怨的笨蛋,识别潜在罪犯,另一会计师事务所德勤的Jean-Fran?ois Legault说。
To work well, linguistic software must adjust to the way different people talk.
For example, when software gurus at E&Y looked at e-mails among financial traders, their first impression was that "these guys' hair is on fire," recalls Vincent Walden, a fraudbuster at the firm. The e-mails were packed solid with swear-words.
例如,安永公司的软件专家检查金融交易员彼此的电子邮件时,他们的第一反应就是"这些小伙子火气很大",该公司的反欺诈专员文森特?瓦尔登(Vincent Walden)说。
But this is how traders normally talk.
It is when they go quiet that the software must prick up its electronic ears.
Dick Oehrle, the chief linguist on the project, explains how it works.
该项目的首席语言学家Dick Oehrle特别讲解了该软件的工作原理。
First, the algorithm digests a big bundle of e-mails to get used to employees' language.
Then human lawyers code the same e-mails, sorting things as irrelevant, relevant or serious.
The human feedback and the computers' results are then reconciled, so the system gets smarter.
Mr Oehrle says the lawyers also learn from the computers (presumably such things as empathy and the difference between right and wrong).
To find employees with the opportunity to steal, the software looks for what snoops call "out of band" events: messages such as "call my mobile" or "come by my office" suggest a desire to talk without being overheard.
E-mails between an employee and an outsider that contain the words "beer", "Facebook" or "evening" can suggest a personal relationship.
Your e-mails may be aired in court
Financial Tracking Technologies, a firm based in Connecticut, goes a step further, making software that can go through calendar apps and travel-expense claims to determine who has come into contact with certain outside investors.
总部位于康涅狄格州的金融追踪技术公司(Financial Tracking Technologies)跟进一步,做出的软件可以搜寻日历应用程序及出差报销单,以确认哪位成与某个外部投资商联系。
This can be married with information about the timing of trades: for example, a short sale before the public release of bad news, says Tony Turner, the company's boss.
该软件可与交易时机有关的信息联系到一起:如在坏消息公开之前抛售。该公司所有者托尼?特纳(Tony Turner)说。
Or consider a broker who e-mails someone a question about the trading volume at which a certain stock would be likely to rise (or fall).
This might indicate an interest in manipulating the price.
So the software will sift through other data to see if the broker would benefit, even indirectly, perhaps by increasing the value of a derivative in his personal portfolio, says Frederic Boulier, a Paris-based director of NICE Actimize, an American firm.
因此该软件要过滤其他数据,以确定该交易员是否有可能(甚至是间接)通过增加个人投资组合中一个衍生品的价值来获利,总部位于巴黎的美国公司NICE Actimize的经理Frederic Boulier说。
Employers without such technology are "operating blind", says Alton Sizemore, a former fraud detective at America's FBI.
侦测人员没有此类技术的协助就会"盲目操作",一位前美国联邦调查局反欺诈探员奥尔顿?希斯莫尔(Alton Sizemore)说。
They often pursue costly investigations based on hunches, which are usually wrong, he says.
Mr Sizemore, who now works for Forensic/Strategic Solutions, an anti-fraud consultancy in Alabama, reckons that nearly all giant financial firms now run anti-fraud linguistic software, but fewer than half of medium-sized or small financial firms do.
希斯莫尔先生先任职于总部位于阿拉巴马州的反欺诈咨询公司法庭/战略解决方案公司(Forensic/Strategic Solutions),他认为几乎所有大型金融公司现在都有反欺诈语言识别软件,但是投入力度仍不及中小型金融公司的一半。
So there is plenty of room for growth.
NICE Actimize says its revenues are steadily rising, though it declines to give figures.
NICE Actimize说该公司的收益逐年上升,但其拒绝提供数据。
Prospective users typically pay for a single "snapshot" search of 12 months of company records, according to APEX Analytix, a developer of the software in Greensboro, North Carolina.
据位于北开罗莱纳州格林斯博罗的软件开发商APEX Analytix称,潜在用户特别会购买公司全年12月数据"快照"搜寻的单一服务。
For a company with 10,000 employees, this costs about $45,000.
Unless a company is very small, evidence of fraud almost always surfaces, convincing clients to sign up for a yearly package that costs three or four times as much as a spot-check, says John Brocar of APEX Analytix.
除非公司规模很小,使用软件欺诈的证据总会查到,APEX Analytix公司的约翰?博罗卡(John Brocar)意图说服客户签购要比抽查贵两到三倍的全年软件包时说。
Why spend the money?
Partly because no one likes to be ripped off.
But also because laws on bribery (which is harder to spot than theft) have grown tougher.
American bosses can in theory be jailed if their underlings grease palms.
Jonas Dischl-Luell of AWK Group, a Swiss firm, sells software that scans e-mail addresses to see if any employees are in contact, even indirectly, with officials in corrupt governments.
瑞士AKW集团的Jonas Dischl-Luell销售搜寻电子邮件地址,查看是否有员工与腐败政府的官员有往来,甚至是间接往来。
If a company shows it has systems in place to detect this kind of thing, and starts investigating before outsiders do, it may have an easier time in court.

  • opportunityn. 机会,时机
  • trianglen. 三角(形)
  • greasen. 兽脂,油脂 vt. 用油脂涂,上油,促进
  • traditionaladj. 传统的
  • bandn. 带,箍,波段 n. 队,一群,乐队 v. 绑扎 v
  • linguistn. 语言学家
  • obviousadj. 明显的,显然的
  • pursuev. 追捕,追求,继续从事
  • utteradj. 全然的,绝对,完全 v. 发出,作声,发表
  • techniquen. 技术,技巧,技能