Larry C. Adams, CPA
Phoenix, Arizona USA
Certified Public Accountant
Certified Fraud Examiner
Telephone (602) 995-8008
Bankrupt, bushing, gyp, jip, gypsy, gippo, gypper,
gypster, hawalas, hundis, hundiwallas, pennyweighter, shopgrifting, and
This article is in the March/April 2002
The White Paper, the Journal of the Association of
Certified Fraud Examiners.
Fraud In Other Words:
Professional Jargon and Uncensored Street Slang
By Larry C. Adams, CFE, CPA, CIA, CISA
Insolvent. Unable to pay one’s debts.
In ancient Italy, a money-changer conducted his business in a public place in a
trading center like Florence or Venice. For the convenience of his customer, the
money-changer set up a small bench called a “banca.” For a fee, the
money-changer calculated the value of currency received by a merchant dealing
with foreign countries, and exchanged it for domestic currency. He also took
money from wealthy patrons and lent it to others. Loans were risky because the
borrower might lose his life, his goods, and his ship through some disaster.
“Rotta” was the term for broken or wrecked, such as a ship. A succession of such
misfortunes would cause the financial failure of the money-changer, unable to
pay his own creditors. As a penalty, the creditors broke up the money-changer’s
bench in public to show he was no longer in business and to warn other patrons
that he was “banca rotta.” Medieval Latin later altered the phrase for broken
bench to “banca rupta.”
Charles Earle Funk, Thereby Hangs a
Tale: Stories of Curious Word Origins, Harper & Row, New York, 1950, pages 26 -
A vehicle sales scam. Bushing a
customer begins with an auto salesman offering a much higher than usual trade-in
allowance on a car. The salesman knows the deal will be turned down later by the
manager of the dealership. This first offer is so attractive it detains the
“mark” and distracts the targeted customer from looking elsewhere. Gradually,
the customer is persuaded to trade in his vehicle at a much lower price to
complete the bait-and-switch deal.
Walter Wagner, The Golden Fleecers,
Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1966, page 197.
|Gyp (Jip, Gip, Gypsy, Gippo,
A person who cheats or swindles
people. A trickster. A person who is not quite honest. Gyp is the Greek word for
vulture. In the 19th century, the Universities of Cambridge and Durham in
England provided servants, who attended one or more undergraduates. Students
called the servants “gyps” because the gyps found many ways of obtaining ale and
tips from them and preyed upon the students like vultures. Gyps made beds, ran
errands, helped their young masters over the college walls late at night, and
provided other services. Sometimes they ran away with everything they could lay
their hands on.
Jordan Almond, Dictionary of Word
Origins: A History of the Words, Expressions, and Clichés We Use, Citadel Press,
New York, 1985, page 113.
Hawalas (Hundis, Hundiwallas)
Shadowy money-brokers who operate
across Asia and the Gulf of Mexico. Money is lent on the basis of trust; there
is no documentation. As many as 200 hawalas can be involved in a single
transaction. Many transactions are handled by cellphone. Hawalas have been
involved in bribery, money-laundering, and match-fixing of international cricket
and soccer games. Hawalas are suspected of secretly transferring cash from the
Middle East to terrorists in America. The US State Department advised Pakistan
to establish anti-money-laundering measures and anti-hawala counter-measures to
curb drug-related and white-collar crimes. About $5 billion passes through these
unofficial channels including hawalas in Pakistan.
Luke Harding, “A Bookie, a Fixer and a
Captain,” Daily Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 12, 2000,
A person who steals jewelry and small
objects by substituting a worthless item for valuable one. A penneyweighter
leaves a fake or cheap replacement so the owner will not discover the valuable
silver, gold, or diamond item is missing until the thief is far away from the
premises. Today, a fraudster might substitute phony bonds or stock certificates
for real ones. In mining camps in the 1930s, a pennyweighter was a person who
stole very small quantities of gold, as opposed to a “high-grader” who
appropriated any big nuggets which he saw in the sluice boxes. In the 18th
century, a pennyweight was a silver penny that weighed the same as 24 grains of
dry barley-corn (1/20th of an ounce Troy).
Ralph Hancock with Henry Chafetz, The
Compleat Swindler, MacMillan Company, New York, 1968, page 293.
To “rent something for free” by
purchasing it at a retailer and then returning it within 30 days for a full
refund. The swindler takes advantage of the store and its liberal return
policies. Big screen televisions are shopgrifted to watch major sporting events.
New Words in English, Department of
Linguistics, Rice University, http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~ling215/
October 21, 2001.
A human parameter used by biometric
security devices to authenticate a person’s identity and control unauthorized
access to high-security computer systems and buildings. Each person has a unique
touch on a computer keyboard, just like a piano or typewriter. The patterns are
noticeable when the user keys in his name or a sequence of words. The strength
and length of the keystrokes and pauses are measurable. The user’s touch on the
keyboard is matched and verified by stored codes in the system’s control file. A
positive verification will allow access; while a negative verification will deny
J. Van Duyn, Automated Crime
Information Systems, TAB Books, Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, 1991, pages 104
|Larry C. Adams, CFE, CPA, CIA,
CISA, is an audit consultant
in Phoenix, Arizona. His latest book is Fraud In Other Words, Second Edition,
1999. He is a member of The White Paper Editorial Review Board. His e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2001 Larry C. Adams. All rights reserved.
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