Detecting Deception: Gathering Evidence and Seeking Admission

Kelly J. Todd
Managing Member
August 8, 2018

OPEN is a key word to remember when detecting deception. Open body language – and an open mind – are your best friends when looking for the truth.

An open mind is going to help keep you in the “information-gathering” mode, which usually proves to be more effective than the gruff interrogation techniques you’ve seen in the movies.

USING OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

Ask open-ended questions – and lots of them. The more questions you ask, the more information you gather – and the wiser you become.  Focus your questions on How, Who, What, When, Where and Why.

While there is place for yes-no questions, open-ended questions will allow you to gather as much data and facts (or lies) as you can:

  • The more information you gather, the more places you’ll be able to drill into when you identify a hotspot.
  • The more they talk, the more nonverbal cues you can gather.
  • The more words you hear, the more you can glean from statement analysis.

INFORMATION GATHERING

The interview process generally moves from general to specific, and information gathering is  more conversational and less threatening. Information gathering can help you understand process and procedure. It also leaves you open to other explanations that you may not have previously considered.

SEEKING ADMISSION

The secret to information gathering is to continue asking questions until you have what you need. Take your time and be patient. When it’s time to seek admission, your questions – many of which you will already know the answer to –  should become more specific.

Moving from general to specific questioning may look something like this:

  • Step One: Prime them for the truth

“I know you are an honest person…”

  • Step Two: Gather information

How does the deposit process work?”

  • Step Three: Drill a little deeper

“The front desk prepares the daily deposit – then explain to me again why you occasionally prepare the daily deposit?”

  • Step Four: “Maybe I’m wrong here…”

This step is where the baseline comes in – you are looking for those deviations when your subject becomes slightly uncomfortable. When you spot a deviation say something like, “Well, maybe I’m wrong here, but your explanation doesn’t make sense.”

  • Step Five: WAIT

WAIT stands for “Why Am I Talking?”

Silence is pure gold in an interview – no one likes awkward silence – but if you are patient and quiet, your subject will do almost anything to fill the silence.

  • Step Six: Confirm your hypothesis

Ask a question that confirms what you already suspect: “So, every time I see  ‘see detail’ written on the deposit slip, that means you prepared the deposit and took it to the bank?”

  • Step Seven: Move in with the strategic use of evidence

In this step, reveal some of the evidence and ask them to explain the contradiction. The television detective, Columbo, was the master of asking questions he already knew the answer to and strategically using evidence to find the truth:

“Explain: This deposit slip with ‘see deposit’ tells me that you prepared the deposit – why wasn’t the cash  deposited?”

WAIT

When they feed you a line, close in with a little more evidence:

“Really? That’s interesting, because every time there is a deposit with ’see deposit’ written on it, the cash wasn’t deposited. Why is that?

BINGO.

All of these techniques are helpful when questioning a suspected fraudster. Employing the right interview techniques can make the difference in leading you to the truth in a forensic investigation.