What you’ll find in the emails of employees engaged in corporate wrongdoing

Scan of a sidebar article from Harper’s Magazine: “The Elements of Guile”.

From Harper’s Magazine’s Twitter account. Click to see the source.

According to Harper’s Magazine’s Twitter feed, the list pictured above contains the sort of words and phrases that typically appear in work emails between “employees engaged in corporate wrongdoing.”

They were gathered by Ernst and Young in the process of developing their Fraud Triangle Analytics software, which “flags personal correspondence in which expression of ‘incentive/pressure’ and ‘opportunity’ coincide with ‘rationalization’.” Harper’s wryly observe that “In cases of corporate malfeasance, employees’ emails tend to rely heavily on terms like “want no part of this” and “deep shit.”

The words and phrases are listed below. The list is rather enlightening:

  • cover up
  • gray area
  • special payment
  • off the books
  • facilitation fee
  • bullshit
  • cash incentive
  • special service
  • under the radar
  • cookie jar
  • offshore
  • quid pro quo
  • adjust invoices
  • shady deal
  • hush money
  • friend fee
  • massage earnings
  • I’m the boss
  • for crying out loud
  • corrupt bastard
  • deep shit
  • want no part of this
  • hit the fan
  • It’s gonna be my ass
  • Everyone does it
  • too stupid to figure it out
  • fresh start
  • I don’t get paid enough
  • told me to
  • gambling problem
  • not a good idea
  • ticking time bomb
  • tired of this
  • It’s immaterial
  • treat me this way
  • part of my job
  • phony
  • divorce
  • girlfriend
  • medical bills
  • vacation home
  • wife is demanding
  • broke
  • charade
  • ploy
  • play ball
  • red tape
  • sweetener
  • Don’t worry about it
  • No one will notice

Thanks to Frank McGillicuddy for the find!