Snake Oil Salesman Alex Martin and AC Global Risk’s “Remote Risk Assessment”

Alexander Martin (LinkedIn profile)

In “The Dangerous Junk Science of Vocal Risk Assessment,” Ava Kofman of The Intercept examines “Remote Risk Assessment,” a voice stress analysis application being marketed by AC Global Risk, a San Francisco-based company led by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Alexander Martin. The company characterizes Remote Risk Assessment as “a sophisticated system that uses unique voice analytics processes to evaluate and quantify distinct characteristics of the human voice related to risk.” Excerpt:

AC Global Risk declined to respond to repeated requests for comment for this article. The company also did not respond to a list of detailed questions about how the technology works. In public appearances, however, Martin has claimed that the company’s proprietary analytical processes can determine someone’s risk level with greater than 97 percent accuracy…. Several leading audiovisual experts who reviewed AC Global Risk’s publicly available materials for The Intercept used the word “bullshit” or “bogus” to describe the company’s claims. “From an ethical point of view, it’s very dubious and shady to give the impression that recognizing deception from only the voice can be done with any accuracy,” said Björn Schuller, a professor at the University of Augsburg who has led the field’s major academic challenge event to advance the state of the art in vocal emotion detection. “Anyone who says they can do this should themselves be seen as a risk.”

NITV Hires Disgraced Ex-Cop Jerry W. Crotty II as Director of Law Enforcement Operations

The National Institute of Truth Verification, which markets a voice-based “lie detector” called the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA), has hired disgraced ex-cop Jerry W. Crotty II to serve as its “Director of Law Enforcement Operations”:

NEW DIRECTOR OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS

NITV Federal Services (NFS) is pleased to welcome Detective Jerry Crotty as its Director of Law Enforcement Operations. Jerry will oversee all aspects of law enforcement operations for NFS and provide direct advice and assistance to law enforcement agencies worldwide, as well as oversee our Technical Services Division.

Jerry joins the NSF team from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida where he served for 20 years in various positions, including supervisory positions in such specialized disciplines as Crimes Against Children, Domestic Violence and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC).  While assigned to the State and Federal ICAC Task Force, Jerry developed ground-breaking techniques for using the CVSA® to identify and bring to justice serial child predators, which are now taught nationally.  These techniques were so significant and effective that in 2015 he received the National Association of Computer Voice Stress Analysts (NACVSA) annual Professor James L. Chapman Award for Excellence.  Jerry is considered an expert in interviewing and interrogation and has a confession rate well above 95%.  He is also an expert utilizing the CVSA and is highly experienced in conducting specialized covert and structured examinations.  Jerry holds a Master’s Degree in Science from the University of Central Florida.

Charles Humble, Founder of NITV Federal Services and the developer of the CVSA, states “We are very excited to have an individual with the qualifications and strong moral character of Jerry Crotty joining our team.  With his law enforcement background, especially in the ICAC arena, Jerry will bring a new dimension to an organization that is already recognized as the Gold Standard for our industry.”

In February 2018, Jerry Crotty, then a supervisor in the Manatee County, Florida Sheriff’s Office Child Protection Investigative Division, “retired to avoid a demotion and discipline,” as Jessica de Leon reported in April for the Bradenton Herald. Excerpt:

Former supervisor of Manatee sheriff’s child protection division opts to retire after demotion and facing suspension

April 04, 2018 06:08 PM
Updated April 05, 2018 09:46 AM

A former supervisor in the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Child Protection Investigative Division has retired to avoid a demotion and discipline after an internal affairs investigation concluded he had been inappropriate and demeaning toward child protective workers. His supervisor was suspended and reassigned after a related internal affairs investigation concluded he did nothing to stop the behavior and participated in the berating of others.

Former Sgt. Jerry Crotty announced he would be retiring in a letter dated Feb. 4 to Capt. Brian Schnering in the Professional Standards Section. According to an internal affairs investigation concluded on Feb. 20, allegations that Crotty violated three general orders — harassment on the basis of disability, conduct unbecoming and failing to adhere to general orders — were sustained against him.

“Over the last year, my physical and mental health has been pushed beyond its limits and this time off of work has given the clarity that I need moving forward,” Crotty wrote. “When I started my career in 1997, I told my family that the day it was no longer fun and felt like work, I would resign. That day has come now.”

Crotty had been on medical leave but anticipated being cleared by his doctors on Feb. 19, he said. His resignation as a result was effective Feb. 20, just two days after his demotion to deputy in the Crime Against Children Section became effective, according to his personnel file. Crotty also said in his resignation letter that he wished to discuss the investigation with Schnering so that it could be closed properly and because he did not wish to resign while he was under investigation.

After a related investigation, Crotty’s supervisor, Lt. Barry Overstreet, was suspended for six days without pay and reassigned to the patrol division.

Crotty and Overstreet both supervised the Crimes Against Children section of the Child Protection Investigative Division, which handles criminal investigations, often working investigations in tandem with the Child Protection Section. The Child Protection Section handles all child welfare investigations in Manatee County for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“Based upon a review of all documentation, evidence and interviews, it is apparent Sgt. Crotty demonstrated harassment based on a disability when he purposely spoke in a diminished tone in an effort to force Deputy Director Connie Keehner, a hearing impaired employee, to ask him to repeat himself,” Sgt. Paul Davis stated in the internal affairs report. “Furthermore, it is evident Sgt. Crotty utilized a pattern of influential comments, actions and/or omissions, as well as deliberately phrased electronic communications to forge a mindset of separation and contempt between his subordinates and the employees of the Child Protection Section.”

Read the rest of the story here.
It may seem curious that NITV founder Charles Humble would consider Jerry Crotty to be an individual of “strong moral character.” But then again, Humble doesn’t think there is anything wrong with his passing himself off as a Ph.D. based upon a “diploma” received following a 6-hour course of study at a strip mall Bible school.
It should also be noted that the National Institute for Truth Verification has admitted in federal court that the Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer “is not capable of lie detection.”

Sanford Police Department Relied on Voice Stress Analysis in Trayvon Martin Shooting Investigation

A lawyer for George Zimmerman, who on 26 February 2012 shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, has told WOFL television news that his client passed a voice stress test administered by the Sanford, Florida Police Department. Criminal defense attorney Hal Uhrig made the statement in explaining why he believed that Zimmerman, whom he had not yet met, had acted in self-defense.

However, voice stress testing (of any kind) is without scientific basis and has never been proven to work at better than chance levels of accuracy. A job posting by the Sanford P.D. indicates that the specific variety of voice stress testing it uses is the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA), which is marketed by the so-called National Institute for Truth Verification (NITV), a West Palm Beach, Florida limited liability corporation. NITV has acknowledged in federal court that “the CVSA is not capable of lie detection” (though it claims the opposite in its marketing materials).

For more on CVSA, see ABC News Exposé of Charles Humble and CVSA on YouTube.

FactCheck.org on Herman Cain Lie Detector Ad

The non-partisan website FactCheck.org has a well-researched commentary on a new political advertisement in support of GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain that touts his supposed “passing” of a voice stress “test” performed by Atlanta private investigator T.J. Ward. See “Whole Truth About the Cain ‘Lie Detector.'” For additional commentary by AntiPolygraph.org on Ward’s supposed “test,” see “CBS Atlanta Falls for Bogus ‘Lie Detector.'”

Cain Backpedals on Lie Detector, Cites “Layered Voice Analysis”

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has backed off from his declaration at a press conference convened to address allegations of sexual harassment  that he was “absolutely” willing to do a lie detector test. In an interview with Neil Cavuto of Fox News, Cain conditioned his willingness to do a lie detector test on the willingness of an accuser to do so:

Cavuto: …There’s definitely a passion to your fans and your supporters. So, um, why not a lie detector test? You kind of offered for that in your press conference the other day. Um, put it out there, I’m taking a damn lie detector test. I’m gonna pass this with flying colors. Shut up.

Cain: Because, here again, why negotiate against yourself. When somebody comes forward, and they have a claim against me, and *they’re* willing to take a lie detector test, *I’ll* take a lie detector test. I’m not going to go and take one against anonymous, no documentation. That’s not good business…

Cain went on to cite the voice stress analysis performed by private investigator T.J. Ward:

Cain: …And here’s the other thing. There’s a private investigator by the name of T.J. Ward out of Atlanta, Georgia who has some sophisticated technology that a lot of people may not have heard about. He took my statement from my press conference–

Cavuto: I heard that.

Cain: –ran it through his software and was willing to go on record–because many law enforcement agencies use this software–and said, “Herman Cain is telling the truth.”

He did the same thing for this woman who accused me the other day when she was with Gloria Allred, and went through and said, “I’m sorry, but there were a lot of untruths in that statement.”

As AntiPolygraph.org has pointed out earlier, T.J. Ward’s “sophisticated technology”–called “Layered Voice Analysis”–is produced and marketed by a charlatan and has no scientific basis whatsoever.

The Hinterland Gazette points out that private investigator T.J. Ward has previously worked with Cain’s newly hired attorney, Lin Wood, on the Natalee Holloway case, raising the question of whether Ward’s supposed “analysis” was part of an orchestrated public relations campaign.

CBS Atlanta Falls for Bogus Lie Detector

T.J. Ward demos Layered Voice Analysis for CBS Atlanta's Mike Paluska

 

On Wednesday, 9 November 2011, CBS Atlanta aired an interview with private investigator T.J. Ward, who used a computer program to analyze recorded statements by Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and Sharon Bialek, who alleges that Cain made a sexual advance on her when she sought his help getting a job. According to Ward’s software, Cain “is being truthful, totally truthful” in denying Bialek’s claim, while Bialek “is fabricating what transpired.”

Ward claimed his software cost $15,000 and has an accuracy rate of 95%. While CBS Atlanta did not disclose the name of this software, a link on Ward’s website indicates that it is Layered Voice Analysis (LVA), a program developed by Amir Liberman’s Nemesysco, Ltd., an Israeli company. This software was completely discredited by Swedish linguists Anders Eriksson and Francisco Lacerda in a 2007 article titled “Charlatanry in Speech Science: A Problem to Be Taken Seriously” (International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, Vol. 14, No. 2). For more on LVA, see “Nemesysco Founder Amir Liberman Is a Charlatan.”

Not that it matters (LVA being pseudoscientific flapdoodle), but it is perhaps worth observing that private investigator T.J. Ward had chosen the setting for analyzing a male voice when conducting his analysis of Sharon Bialek’s remarks:

CBS Atlanta should have done its homework before running with a “news” story based on emperor’s-new-clothes technology.

Nemesysco Controversy Roundup

Israeli lie detector company Nemesysco has issued a press release responding to  Professors Anders Eriksson and Francisco Lacerda’s article, “Charlatanry in Speech Science: A Problem to Be Taken Seriously,” which laid bare in devastating detail the pseudoscientific nature of Nemesysco’s lie detection “technology.” It should be noted that Nemesysco’s press release opens with a misleading characterization of Erksson & Lacerda’s article:

We wish to clarify our position with regard to the so-called ‘scientific research’ written by Professors Lacerda and Eriksson and published in the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law in December 2007, but later withdrawn.

In fact, the article has not been withdrawn, rescinded, or otherwise disavowed by the journal that published it. Rather, the publisher (rather cravenly, in our opinion) withdrew the on-line availability of the article in response to legal threats from Nemesysco’s lawyers. For background, including part of the correspondence between Nemesysco and the publisher, see Nemesysco Founder Amir Liberman Is a Charlatan on this blog.

The “Ministry of Truth” blog, which has been following the  saga particularly as it pertains to the use of Nemesysco’s lie detection software in the United Kingdom (where it is marketed as “Voice Risk Analysis”), provides a point-by-point critique of Nemesysco’s press release.

See also Professor Lacerda’s 12 March 2009 blog entry, LVA-technology and Nemesysco’s official statement, in which he responds to an earlier released statement by Nemesysco in response to his and Professor Eriksson’s article. Continue reading Nemesysco Controversy Roundup

Baker DVSA Loses a Customer

Dee J. Hall reports for the Wisconson State Journal that “Dr.” E. Gary Baker, the faux Ph.D. who markets what he styles a “Digital Voice Stress Analyzer” to law enforcement agencies, has lost the Jefferson, Wisconsin Police Department as a customer:

Jefferson police cancel training on voice-stress analyzer
By DEE J. HALL
608-2523-6132
dhall@madison.com

The city of Jefferson Police Department has cancelled a training session on how to use a controversial voice-stress analyzer after the Wisconsin State Journal raised questions about the technology and the qualifications of the business owner scheduled to conduct the training.

Voice-stress analysis is used by some law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin, including the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, to detect “microtremors” in the voice that backers of the technology say indicates speakers are stressed and therefore answering questions deceptively.

“If everything has been exhausted in investigative techniques and they have a suspect or someone they want to eliminate as a suspect, it (CVSA) has been used,” Madson said, adding that the technology has prompted confessions from suspects. “The tool works, as far as I’m concerned.”

Detective Sergeant Tim Madson is badly misinformed. The existing peer reviewed research suggests that voice stress analyzers perform at roughly chance levels of accuracy. While these devices might be useful for scaring confessions out of naive and gullible persons, they have no scientific basis and are no more to be relied upon than a colander wired to a photocopier with a sheet of paper saying “He’s Lying” on the glass paten. Continue reading Baker DVSA Loses a Customer

Nemesysco Founder Amir Liberman Is a Charlatan

Nemesysco founder Amir Liberman
Nemesysco founder Amir Liberman

Amir Liberman, the founder of Nemesysco, an Israeli company that internationally markets voice based lie detectors that simply don’t work, successfully pressured an academic journal into withdrawing the Internet availability of a peer-reviewed article that exposes Liberman’s lie detection “technology” for the pseudoscientific flapdoodle that it is.

The Article

Swedish linguists Anders Eriksson and Francisco Lacerda co-authored an article titled “Charlatanry in Speech Science: A Problem to Be Taken Seriously” that was published in the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law (vol. 14, no. 2 [2007]). Eriksson & Lacerda review several voice-based lie detectors, including Nemesysco’s “Layered Voice Analysis” (LVA) which the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command has purchased and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is considering adopting. A variant of LVA customized for security checkpoints has reportedly been trialled at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport.

Anders Eriksson and Francisco Lacerda
Anders Eriksson and Francisco Lacerda

Eriksson & Lacerda point out that so-called “thorns” and “plateaus” — characteristics of digitized voice recordings that Nemesysco claims reflect emotional states — are merely artifacts produced by the digitization process! With regard to the LVA software, Eriksson & Lacerda note:

Contrary to the claims of sophistication — ‘The LVA software claims to be based on 8,000 mathematical algorithms applied to 129 voice frequencies’ (Damphousse et al. 2007: 15) — the LVA is a very simple program written in Visual Basic. The entire program code, published in the patent documents (Liberman 2003) comprises no more than 500 lines of code. It has to be said, though, that in order for it not to be possible to copy and run the program as is, some technical details like variable declarations are omitted, but the complete program is unlikely to comprise more than 800 or so lines. With respect to its alleged mathematical sophistication, there is really nothing in the program that requires any mathematical insights beyond very basic secondary school mathematics. To be sure, recursive filters and neural networks are also based on elementary mathematical operations but the crucial difference is that these operations are used in theoretically coherent systems, in contrast to the seemingly ad hoc implementation of LVA.

Continue reading Nemesysco Founder Amir Liberman Is a Charlatan

Colorado Television News Program Investigates Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA)

Colorado television station KUSA 9News investigative reporter Jace Larson examines the use of the “Computer Voice Stress Analyzer” (CVSA) in the state:

KUSA – A device used by Colorado law enforcement agencies to identify when someone is lying, may not work and may be costing taxpayers money.

Computer Voice Stress Analyzers (CVSAs) claim to measure changes in a person’s voice that indicate a lie.

However, three recent studies say the device does not accurately tell the difference between a person lying and a person telling the truth.

CVSAs have been used by 21 law enforcement agencies in Colorado.

Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the International Association of Chiefs of

Police and the Department of Defense question the validity of CVSAs.

In 2006 a University of Florida study found CVSAs, “performed at chance-level for deception, truth and stress.” The same study went on to say, “false positive rates were high.”

Westminster Police Investigator Wayne Read doesn’t agree though. He and members of his department have used the device and swear by it.

“I know how to operate the instrument. I know how the instrument works. I don’t think I could deceive the instrument,” said Read.

Read’s belief in CVSA despite the scientific evidence against it is reminiscent of the dogged belief of polygraph operators in their own pseudoscientific form of lie detection, despite broad consensus among scientists that it has no scientific basis.

Instructors who teach law enforcement agents how to read the test agree.

“It’s not audible to the human ear,” said Ben Conrique.

Conrique works for The National Institute for Truth Verification, the company selling CVSAs.

“Voice Stress indicated whether or not a person is telling the truth,” said Conrique.

And yet the National Institute for Truth Verification admitted before a federal court that CVSA “is not capable of lie detection.”

The National Institute for Truth Verification sells each device for about $10,000.
Agencies in Colorado have spent more than $331,000 on training and equipment.

“You only spend that type of money on something that has a proven success rate,” said Conrique.

However, experts who oppose CVSAs believe the devices do not work and that they lead to false confessions by suspects.

Deputies in Maricopa County, Ariz. suspected Robert Louis Armstrong of triple murder.

They questioned him for 10 hours in 2003. After deputies told him his test showed he was lying, Armstrong confessed.

Evidence emerged later proving Armstrong was out of the state at the time of the murders and he was freed.

He sued the sheriff’s office.

9Wants to Know tried to speak with deputies in Maricopa County but they declined.

Several agencies around the county have decided to stop using the CVSAs and now rely on other methods such as a polygraph test.

Unfortunately, polygraph tests, too, are completely unreliable as a means of lie detection. They are inherently biased against the truthful, yet easily manipulated through the use of simple countermeasures. See The Lie Behind the Lie Detector for a thorough debunking.

“If you think the CVSA is going to tell you whether witnesses or suspects are telling the truth, you’re gravely mistaken,” said CVSA opponent Richard Leo.

Leo is a criminologist and professor of law at the University of San Francisco.

Leo told 9NEWS if a law enforcement agency buys this device, “You’re wasting your money and you’re wasting public money.”

“You might as well be flipping coins or reading tea leaves or reading an Ouija board,” he continued.

The following are agencies that have confirmed to 9Wants to Know that they own or have used CVSAs:

*Boulder Police Department
*Brighton Police Department
*Broomfield Police Department
*Colorado Division of Wildlife
*Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
*El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
*Englewood Police Department
*Federal Heights Police Department
*Fort Morgan Police Department
*Glenwood Springs Police Department
*Golden Police Department
*Grand Junction Police Department
*Lakewood Police Department
*Lamar Police Department
*Longmont Police Department
*Moffat County Sheriff’s Office
*Northglenn Police Department
*Sterling Police Department
*Thornton Police Department
*Westminster Police Department
*Yuma County Sheriff’s Office

For further reading and video links, see the KUSA 9News website’s feature page, The Truth About Lies. and for discussion, see the CVSA and other Voice Stress Analysis Applications forum of the AntiPolygraph.org message board.