A veteran-owned, St. Petersburg-based technology startup utilizes an autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) agent to detect deception in written or spoken statements, emails and text messages.
Mark Carson, one of Deceptio’s three founders, said the platform could analyze 5,000 words and provide a truth probability score and the reasoning behind its findings in under one second. Deceptio began accepting beta customers in June, and users can test the unique AI solution through a 30-day free trial.
The goal is to streamline investigative processes by helping law enforcement and corporate investigators identify and eliminate suspects efficiently.
“When an individual is attempting to conceal information, it (Deceptio) will very quickly identify the inconsistencies in how they’re speaking and the types of words they’re using,” Carson explained. “And it will quickly alert the interviewer that this person is being deceptive.”
The idea for Deceptio came to Carson during the pandemic. He read an article about a multinational corporation closing their headquarters for a week and spending around $150,000 on sanitation services after an employee reported that he contracted Covid.
However, company officials eventually realized the employee was healthy and had sought an impromptu two-week vacation. Carson realized there was an opportunity to create a tool that could have helped the human resources department gauge the claim’s veracity.
The first step in any investigation is to gather statements from potential suspects. Carson noted that investigators then evaluate that information for deception or truthfulness, and Deceptio automates that complex process.
“That requires extensive training and certification,” he added. “And then, obviously, a large amount of time deploying that into the field to be good at it. So, we’ve taken away that barrier from anyone required to conduct an initial investigation.”
Carson spent over 20 years running software-as-a-service companies and was familiar with former U.S. Marshall Mark McClish’s work. McClish is a statement analysis expert who interviewed over 5,000 people suspected of crimes.
Carson approached McClish with a business opportunity. “I told him, ‘I think we have a marketable solution here. All we need to do is convert your brain to an AI.’
“And long story short, that’s what we did.”
Users log into the analyzation tool and enter the statement’s context. That includes potential property crimes, fraud, sexual harassment and assault, narcotics offenses, text messages and uncategorized information.
The platform then calculates a truthfulness probability percentage. Carson said anything below 85% means the person was “definitely concealing a substantial amount of information.”
Deceptio also provides a detailed explanation and highlights specific words and phrases that influenced the score. While Carson said misleading or deceptive statements do not necessarily denote a lie, he said it would help investigators prepare follow-up questions for those who perform poorly.
In addition to law enforcement and human resource professionals, Carson believes Deceptio would benefit intelligence officers, auditing firms, attorneys, fire marshals and sales executives. He said the platform is more efficient and accurate than polygraph tests, which measure physiological factors like blood pressure and heart rate fluctuations.
“Anybody can fool a polygraph, and anyone can fool a body language expert if you’ve been trained on it,” Carson said. “When you start to try to conceal information, your verbiage literally changes. And we don’t even subconsciously realize it.”
He based Deceptio’s algorithms on a proprietary statement analysis method McClish created. McClish retired as a supervisory deputy after 26 years with U.S. Marshals Service and spent nine years teaching his statement analysis techniques at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia.
Carson believes thousands of real-world use cases have proven the method’s accuracy. He also said that corporate crime is an increasing problem, and Deceptio could help company officials decide if they want to pursue criminal charges.
He designed the platform for widespread usage and said it requires no training. The co-founders have bootstrapped the startup over the past two years and recently opened their first funding round.
“We’re seeking the right investors,” Carson explained. “Those are the ones that understand the goal and vision of what a true AI tool like this will mean long-term. We’ve turned down a couple already.”
Carson said the company has also collected and stored a massive amount of human behavioral data, called pattern of life analysis. He said Deceptio’s database “literally maps” deceptiveness in the human psyche.
He noted that Cathie Wood, CEO of St. Petersburg-based ARK Invest, frequently mentions the value of AI entrepreneurs amassing proprietary data. Carson called Deceptio’s information, which does not include personal information, “exceptionally proprietary.”
“To our knowledge, there isn’t anyone else on the planet doing what we’re doing,” he added. “Let alone amassing the type of life intelligence data we’re collecting.”