Remember Enron? Internal Emails Helped Crack the Case
By Devin Ballam, Marketing –
Social media plays a huge role in the success of today’s businesses, whether used for good or for bad.
On the positive end of the spectrum, social media can be used to promote new products, ideas and promotions, making people aware of the changes businesses make.
Conversely, social media can also be used to mislead the public, government and other outside sources, which often leads to corruption.
Companies must learn how to use social media with integrity to maximize positive outcomes and limit its use for corruption.
Enron — A Case Study
One example of corrupt social media usage is the Enron case. The employees who were involved in the scandal used email and code names to spread corrupt project ideas and practices across the company.
When the SEC caught wind of Enron’s creative accounting practices, they began to put a case together to investigate. One of the problems the SEC experienced is that the employees lied when questioned about the fraud. They were able to overcome this problem once they gained access to the company’s servers and were able to look at past emails sent by employees.
The Email Trap
With billions of emails sent each year between thousands of employees, the SEC needed a way to narrow down the emails to find the information they needed to prosecute the corrupt employees. They did this by using different programs to find patterns used by employees involved in the corruption. This was not easy, as many of the corrupt employees did not use simple enough key words to work for the detection programs.
To avoid detection, the corrupt employees would send individual emails regarding secret plans, instead of sending a mass message that could be easily traced. Using patterns in the emails, the SEC was enabled to identify who was most likely involved in fraud and who would be recruited.
Time for Prevention
This method is effective in identifying individuals involved in fraud once it has already taken place, but how can companies detect corruption before it overtakes the whole company? It does not seem ethical to subject all employees to intense interrogation of emails and personal social media accounts. We need a way to detect those who would influence all the employees’ opinions so profoundly with corrupt information.
In countries that allow the use of lie detection systems for employee screening, EyeDetect™ represents a solution to this problem. It is a technology that can detect deception and fraud with 85 percent accuracy. The behavior of human eyes reflects signs of stress and deception that are undetectable by other humans. With the use of this technology, employees who start corruption in a company can be caught based on completely unbiased mathematical data generated from the behavior of their eyes.
If Enron had conducted a periodic employee review, it could have prevented the fraudulent and corrupt activities of its employees.