Attending the recent 29th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, Martin Ford, futurist and author of New York Times bestseller Rise of the Robots spoke on the impact that technology will have on the nature of work of the fraud examiner. Ford spoke about the fact that we can expect exponential disruption however stated that some skill, such as interview skills, will most probably never be replaced by robotics.
Combining technology with an interview
Research done by the ACFE amongst certified fraud examiners (CFE) on interviewing skills revealed a few basics for a successful interviewing however revealed one golden thread – Never enter an interview without thorough preparation. Questions that will lead to an admission is a matter of personal style however should always assist in building rapport with the interviewee. Then the interview should be done in the interviewee’s space so that they can feel comfortable and not intimidated. Knowing when to pause, listen, observe verbal responses and body language requires experience, confidence and focus. Being consistent in interviews is the CFE’s biggest bogy. Things can go wrong and when they do, it often ends up in the subjects walking away without facing the consequences of their actions.
How can LVA technology assist in the interview process?
If the future is all about new technology the CFE should embrace it rather sooner than later. Deciding which technology could assist the CFE to achieve consistent and reliable results is a topic of debate. Arguably one such tool is Layered Voice Analysis technology (LVA). The technology is a non-intrusive and language-independent voice analysis solution. It is based on emotion detection through voice analysis. It optimise the process of truth verification, expose malicious intentions and reveal emotions.
LVA analyses can be performed in real-time (using a microphone or during a telephone conversation) as well as off-line on previously recorded material. The subject can be situated in a quiet space at work or home, which improve the chances of an accurate outcome. The technology enables the CFE to interview a subject by either using a well prepared standard scripted questionnaire or by allowing both parties to express themselves freely whilst testing for confidentiality and secrecy, theft from place of employment, credibility and criminal tendencies, bribery and kickbacks, fraud and deceit, drug and alcohol usage.
LVA technology identifies a subject’s state-of-mind by analysing key vocal properties in the subject’s speech, various types of stress (“fight or flight” paradigm), cognitive processes and emotional reactions. It ignores what a subject is saying (i.e., the specific content) and focuses only on changes in the brain activity that are reflected in the voice. Post testing, the outcome could be verified by the CFE by reviewing all the analysis layers presented by the test, thus eliminating many of the possible inconsistencies during a verbal face-to-face interview. Once deceptions have been identified in context to the potential fraud, it allows the CFE to focus the investigation on specific areas of interest in preparation for a final face-to-face interview.
The human voice and accuracy of the tool
Psycho physiological veracity assessment is a behavioural discipline, where humans work with humans in an environment created by humans in a specific geographic and cultural setting. Most voice analysis tools depend on various factors such as:
- The emotional involvement and jeopardy of the tested party about what is being tested;
- The quality of the input and signal to noise ratio. High noise levels, too low or too high input volumes will produce erroneous results;
- Personality or medical issues or clinical conditions of the tested party may cause inaccurate results;
- Drug usage and strong medication will influence the technology readings and results.
Essentially, if the quality of the voice is reasonably good and the operation and preparation are proper, the emotional analysis component will be highly accurate and reliable.
Employers are permitted to use veracity testing to investigate specific incidents where:
- Employees had access to the matter subject of the investigation;
- There is a reasonable suspicion of the subject’s involvement;
- There has been economic loss to the employer’s business;
- The employer is combating dishonesty in positions of trust;
- The employer is combating serious alcohol, illegal drugs or narcotics abuse;
- The employer is combating fraudulent behaviour within the company;
- The employer is combating deliberate falsification of documents and lies regarding identity of the people involved.
As futurist, Patrick Gordon author of The Future of almost Everything writes “One word will drive the future – So if we wish to explore the future, we need to look at how people are likely to FEEL, as well as what they will THINK. The single word that will drive the future is EMOTION.”
All these elements are key contributors to the accuracy of LVA technology which could assist the CFE to better deal with people on the other side of an interview.