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The Language of Fraud Cases$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190270643

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190270643.001.0001

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Securities Fraud

Securities Fraud

(p.193) 7 Securities Fraud
The Language of Fraud Cases

Roger W. Shuy

Oxford University Press

The government investigated a stockbroker by using two stockbrokers caught in a previous sting operation. They recorded thirty-eight conversations with the stockbroker during a stock sale speech event that the agents tried to convert into illegality using a test trade they interpreted as an illegal kickback to their company. The broker’s language gave no evidence that he recognized their ambiguity. His own topics concerned his legal procedures, his honesty and fair business dealing, and high quality of his company. His speech acts included no admitting, promising, offering, or agreeing to do anything illegal. The agents’ conversational strategies throughout contained ambiguity camouflaging illegality by making it appear legal, and criminalizing the tape with references irrelevant to their conversations. Their lexicon was full of ambiguous expressions such as “put the deal on the books,” “theoretically there’s a Chinese wall,” “take care of things,” “take care of what we gotta do,” and others.

Keywords:   statutory definitions, undercover cooperating witnesses, sting operations, stock sale speech event, schemas, agendas, speech acts, conversational strategies, smoking guns

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