Bank fraud investigations assisted by bankers' emails saying 'Please don't talk about this illegal thing in email'


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/23/bank-fraud-investigations-assi.html


#2


#3

How the hell are people who are so much worse at being a criminal than I would be making so god damn much money being criminals? Nepotism!


#4

Where do you think the radar is? The radar is an e-mail search program that looks for phrases like “we are running under the radar.” I have to believe that at some deep unconscious level this person wanted to get caught.

Naah. At some shallow, conscious level, the guy wanted to brag about it.


#5

“I mentioned the six-billion dollar mortgage fraud … but I think I got away with it.”


#6

It used to be my job to go through these kinds of emails prior to litigation, and it’s really astounding how often people ignore the repeated notices that everything they do on a company machine will be recorded, including their Blackberry. Shady business practices, affairs, minutes of PTA meetings, truly revolting pr0n, I’ve seen it all.


#7

I have to believe that at some deep unconscious level this person wanted to get caught.

Don’t underestimate the power of stupid.


#8

But only to a fellow fraudster, meaning it’s really about bragging about getting away with it.


#9

I wonder if this happens because thinking too much or deeply about what you’re saying or doing in order to understand how it might be interpreted exposes the thinker to moralistic thoughts, which will make them feel bad (barring psychopathy), so they avoid this as a self defence mechanism.


#10

Yeah, he’s got himself fucking elected as POTUS.


#11

Maybe he was a kind of wistleblower, documenting criminal activity for future investigators but in a way that preserves deniability so he can keep his field of work?


#12

I think all of us have experienced something similar. I know I have. Many times I’ve found myself coming out of the other end of a conversation thinking to myself, “Why did I say that? Why didn’t I just stop talking?” Nothing criminal, just having volunteered something I knew full well would not benefit me in any way to volunteer.

I think some (most?) of it is a lack of filter - if something is on our minds we kind of want to talk about it. These people know what they are doing is shady and that fact is right there in the front of their consciousness. That makes it easier for it to pop out of their brains and into their mouths. Casual email isn’t all that different from casual conversation, so sometimes they write it down too.


#14

At a subconscious level most people want approval for, well, everything! It’s part of our tribal instincts. If the tribe approves then everything’s cool. If I keep a secret from the tribe then I don’t know if it’s cool, keeping it secret actually kind of implies that it’s not cool. So people tend to blab about their fears, insecurities, skeletons et al in hopes of receiving approval in some form, which helps solidify their sense of self worth in the social context they live in.


#15

Which is why you never talk to a police officer about anything. Because your traitorous subconscious wants to tell them what they want to know, even if you don’t.

I’m sure glad those bankers who were deliberately and consciously breaking the law in a systematic way to the point of collapsing the global economy and immiserating millions of people got the jail terms they deserve.

Why, since some people get life in prison for petty theft under ill-advised three strikes laws, I’m sure these much larger scale criminals must be really paying a price for their crimes.


#16

When I checked about a year ago about 10% of people incarcerated in Iceland were in that state for fraud connected to the global financial collapse.

Assuming this is true of the US, there are about 228,000 bankers incarcerated right now.


#17

Actually I think it’s a hell of a lot simpler than that.

People do not, at a fundamental level, understand how search works. In particular, they do not understand how an email archive is different from a large pile of papers.

If you mention something in a printed memo (let’s pretend such things still exist), and then the person who does that is immediately scolded for doing so, you’ve created 2 internal memos and probably stemmed the problem. Auditors MAY be able to find that, but it’s a huge manual search to do so. The cost of finding those two items is substantially higher. Perhaps more to the point, you could probably destroy all copies of those physical memos. Bottom line, if there is a physical artifact of the communication, it is both harder to find and easier to destroy when there are fewer of them.

This is not how indexed search works. We all know that; if we work in tech we have probably deeply internalized it; if we grew up on the concept, we may have always understood it. A keyword is as easy to find in one document as in hundreds; indeed, it’s EASIER to find in one document than hundreds, because there’s less to sift through. The word “radar”, by itself, is probably all you’d need to find these things very quickly.

It’s also nearly impossible to destroy all records of the communication (and that is, itself, illegal under SarbOx).

So this is not evidence of someone wanting to get caught, it’s evidence of a flawed internal model of how communication works in the modern age.


#18

I was working at a large multinational corporation when our manager sent a paper memo around to every member of the team (20+ people) stating “Please do not tell the consulting company most of you work through that we have hired person X because we do not want to pay the consulting company the fee they are due when we hire one of you consultants as a full-time employee”. At least half of the people that got this memo got their paycheck from that consulting company, not from the corporation.


#19

If only! (The ones actually found guilty, that is, in a justice system not owned by them.)


#20

In 2006 I was working in environmental risk assessment for several lenders. I can tell you if your property is toxic, in the chemical sense. Yep, their risk tolerance was at least slightly higher. For a while there, roughly 2004 to 2008 there was a lot fewer questions about compliance and a lot more questions about how to get the deal done by friday, so they could get to Bermuda.


#21

Years ago I received some anti-trust training, leading into a project that had some potential real issues in that regard. The training was weird. It was full of things like “Instead of saying Y, say X”. An example would be “Instead of saying ‘market control’, say ‘market share’”. The subtext being that ‘market control’ was what we really meant, but that we had agreed on some sort of euphemistic code. My impression of the training was that it was instructing us more on how to not get caught than on how to not inadvertently breach the law. I pointed this interpretation out to the legal guy promulgating the training, but he dismissed it as paranoia on my part.