The voice stress analyzer is not new. I recall it being used by the inventor to analuze politicians' speeches. However he was silenced after publishing an analysis of Jimmie Carters' "Panama Canal" speech in which he said Carter was lying through his teeth. - JR
INSURANCE CHEATS FACE ARMY LIE DETECTOR
By Becky Barrow
Some people blush, some stutter and others become aggressive, but the insurance industry is working on the most scientific way to find out if somebody is lying or not.
One of the side-effects of the annual Christmas binge is a sharp rise in fraudulent insurance claims as people resort to desperate measures to repair their over-indulged personal finances.
But the insurance industry is fighting back, using technology developed by the Israeli security forces to find out whether or not somebody is telling the truth.
Fraud costs the insurance industry more than £1 billion each year in false motor and household claims.
Lior Koskas, the business development of Digilog, the company that developed the "voice risk analysis" system, said: "People think that we use some sort of machine with a red and a green light which flashes, which is far removed from the truth."
The system, which is just starting to be taken up by a number of insurance companies in Britain such as Admiral and Esure, is only used on people whose claims are considered dubious.
These people are then telephoned by an operator, who is trained in using Digilog, and are told that the call is being recorded for fraud prevention purposes. At this point, the system is already working. Some people immediately hang up. Others suddenly say that they have decided not to pursue their claim.
For those who hang on, the operator will ask them various bland questions, such as how they spell their surname, to allow the system to establish their voice pattern at normal stress levels. The operator is trained to look for various signs that typically suggest that somebody is lying.
If you are telling the truth, you are likely to say things such as "I went to" or "We did that". Liars are far less personal, and do not use "I" or "we" because, says Mr Koskas, they do not want to commit.
In the case of a car accident or a burglary a truthful person is likely to want to tell the operator every single detail because, having just gone through an emotional experience, he or she wants to talk about it. A liar will usually want to say as little as possible.
These examples - two of a long list of other ways of distinguishing a fraudulent claim from an honest one - work together with the Digilog system and its "narrative integrity analysis" to pick out a liar at a hundred paces.
Highway Insurance, which became the first insurance company to use the system in this country about 18 months ago, says that the level of fraud detection has jumped from five per cent to 18 per cent since it was introduced.
Once the system has got used to the nuances of somebody's voice - a process which takes about 10 seconds - it will flash a message on the computer screen showing the operator whether the person is "stressed", "no risk", "excited" or making "a risk statement".
It can be very specific about the moment the person is lying, even dividing the taped conversation into two second segments.
If you run one of Bill Clinton's most famous speeches through the system, it will say "risk statement" only at the moment when he denies having "sexual relations with that woman".