Social Media isn’t just changing the way we share information; it’s changing the way we access, evaluate, and perceive it. Our social channels reveal much more about our lives and business activities than ever before available to the public, which can help investigators gather vital information for firms—but only if it’s done right.
Here are some real life examples of how Pilum has used social media to provide critical evidence in three different types of cases:
Evidence in an Forensic Asset Case
In a recent forensic asset investigation, our lender client reached out to us because their mortgagee was not paying the mortgage. Consequently, this multi-million-dollar property was in foreclosure.
Through our investigation, we found out that the subject was renting out this property — a San Diego beach front mansion — as a get-a-way retreat. We tracked down the VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) number, which led us to a separate website. From there, we found out weekly prices and even found a calendar of when the property was rented out. The weekly price in peak season was over $6000 per week, yet not one dime was paid to the foreclosing mortgage lender!
With this evidence in hand, our client was able to obtain “receivership” of the property during the foreclosure process, which allowed then to keep the rental money during negotiations.
Evidence in a Corporate Case:
Sometimes we don’t even need to access a witness’s own social media page. Most of the time, we access the pages and profiles of family members and/or friends instead.
In a recent corporate case, we were able to gather all the information needed on a non-disclosed business from the LinkedIn page of one of the subject’s family members.
We were able to download pictures of the business as well as pictures of the inventory, thereby gaining information on pricing. We obtained the name of the business through other family members connected to the subject, and once we had the name, we reverse-searched the web address and found the registration of the company with the subject’s information.
Compiling all the information found, we were able to accurately estimate the business worth.
Evidence in a Criminal Case:
In a particular criminal case we were involved in, one of the complaining witnesses said he was injured in a fight that was started by our client.
The police officers took pictures of the “victim” and the alleged injury to his leg. Our team of investigators found posts on his Instagram feed showing that the injury was actually caused three days prior to the fight.
In fact, we were able to download the pictures with captions explaining the actual injury, which had been a result of a motocross injury, not from a kick as he had claimed.
Is This Legal?
Absolutely. There is case law (Nucci v. Target Corp.,) which holds that photographs posted on a social media site are neither privileged nor protected by any right of privacy, regardless of the privacy settings established by the user. In fact, the court pointed out that the very nature of social media sites is to share photographs with others, so a user cannot later claim a legitimate expectation of privacy.
Pilum Defense Agency has countless other examples by using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace and Instagram. One small piece of information can lead to a much more relevant evidence.
What Can Pilum Do for You?
Pilum Defense Agency is your go-to investigation agency for social media background checks. With our military intelligence and federal law enforcement backgrounds, we are experts in using open-source intelligence (OSINT) of all kinds.
Not only do we know how to obtain the information, we know how to analyze it and use it for evidence. By using sophisticated technology, expert analytics, and skilled investigators, we deliver information that can be crucial to the success of your case.