Deception Detection In Non Verbals And Linguistics

Deception Analysis Of Ryan Lochte’s Robbery Account



I've been analysing police criminal statements to determine verbal/written cues for a quite few years now, with the view to developing automated software to red flag statement inconsistencies and deception.


It turns out that there is evidence that liars tend to tell a less coherent story, items are more likely to be out of sequence, they are less likely to include conversations or sensory details such as what something smelled or looked like, and there are more likely to be contradictions, and so on.


My interest was peaked in the controversy arising from the reported robbery in Rio of 4 U.S swimmers, and that fact that the judge said that there are inconsistencies between the swimmers statements.

I decided to have a look at Ryan Lochte’s statement if I could find a direct quote.
This is what Lochte said on NBC Today:

We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge,
police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over.

They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground —
they got down on the ground.

I refused, I was like we didn't do anything wrong, so —
I'm not getting down on the ground.

And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said,
'Get down,' and I put my hands up, I was like 'whatever.' 

He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”


Looking at some of the most interesting parts of the statement, Lochte starts of with we
got pulled over, and then ends the sentence with an out of sequence “they pulled us over” after telling us what he didn't see.

When most people are asked an open question, they describe what happened, not what didn’t happen.
Saying what didn’t happen in response to an open question is called a spontaneous negation by FBI agent John Schafer in his book and is a red flag in deception.

“....they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground...”

Lochte didn’t say “they told us to get down on the ground”, he said the “other swimmers” were told this. He is isolating himself from the group. It’s no longer we and us.

It seems Lochte is still standing around, with attitude to boot (“I’m not getting on the ground”)
When a gun is pointed to his forehead and he is told to get down, after the other swimmers were told to get down and which they did, at this point he puts his hands up.

Then some interesting bits: “And then the guy pulled out his gun....”

1 –“Then” indicates that some time had passed, perhaps something is being skipped over.

2 – “the” is out of context. “And then the guy pulled out his gun, and cocked it...” by using the in this manner it indicates that the gunman is previously known.

3 – The most obvious glaring problem is that the guns were already out in the earlier part, but now we are being told “then the guy pulled out his gun”.

4 – The gunman tells him to get down and then he puts up his hands.

5 – Lochte portrays himself as a hero by being dismissive towards the gunman with the “whatever” attitude.

6 – “He took our money, he took my wallet..”
It wasn’t they took our wallets. Lochte is treated differently again, with his wallet being taken by the single gunman, while the others had there money taken.

This statement is riddled with inconsistencies and red flags and appears very deceptive.

It would seem something else happened that is being covered up with this “robbery”.
Lochte never told the police about the robbery, he sent a text message to his mother afterwards who was also in Rio.

Only when media reports came out via his mother did police get Lochte and another swimmer Feigen in to make statements. Reportedly Lochte’s statement said there was only one gunman involved while Feigens statement said there were several gunmen but only one was armed.

Media report:
Judge Blanc De Cnop noted that Lochte had said a single robber approached
the athletes and demanded all their money (400 real, or $124).

Feigen's statement said a number of robbers targeted the athletes
but only one was armed, the statement said. Another potential issue
highlighted by judge was the behavior of the athletes on arrival at the
Olympic Village in the aftermath."



Lochte’s mother played it down, saying,” They just took their wallets and basically that was it.”

Looking at Lochte’s statement on NBC, there are many red flags raised, but bringing all the other media reports into the mix lifts this to another level. 

I think this whole episode was best summed up by local television new announcer Mariana Godoy --

"So the American swimmer lied about the robbery?  He went from one party to another party and didn't want to tell his Mommy about it?"

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