Using The Internet To Track Fugitives

Searching the internet is becoming a more common way of tracking down criminals. For many cases today, the in-person method of interviewing witnesses and collecting physical evidence may not even be needed to find a criminal. While the internet is a popular tool for cybercriminals to use, law enforcers and investigators are fighting back through the internet.

Online Background Searches.

Because of the rise of technology, nearly every person in the modern world has left an imprint on the internet. A lot of information can be gathered on a person through a simple engine search. Investigators can potentially learn about a person’s location, contact information, social networking accounts and occupation. Even obscure details found in a fugitive’s photos or personal interests can help in a case.

Social Networking Sites.

In 2016, 78% of the U.S. population has a social networking account. It isn’t unusual for criminals to leave traces of themselves on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google+, Instagram or other blogging platforms. Law enforcers can gather a lot of intelligence just by browsing a fugitive’s accounts. Even if a criminal is careful about what he or she shares online, his or her friends may not be. Investigators will often keep track of the fugitive’s online friends in case they unintentionally leak information on the fugitive’s whereabouts publicly.

Social Engineering Tactics.

Cyber criminals are notorious for using social engineering tactics to trick victims into giving up sensitive information. This tactic is now similarly used by law enforcement in order to track down criminals. Some investigations will pose as a friend or feign interest in a criminal’s schemes in order to gather information on them. Sometimes social engineering is even used to draw a fugitive out of hiding. Once trust is established with the fugitive, it can just be a matter of asking him or her to meet up in a specific area, and this can lead to an arrest.

Social Media Tools.

There are various online tools to help investigators track an online presence. For instance, Tweetdeck is a tool that follows certain topics or phrases on Twitter. Social Mention is a search engine that keeps track of topics across Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google+ and other various online platforms. OpenMIND is a tech firm tool designed specifically for law enforcement agencies, and it digs even deeper into the web by searching blogs, chat rooms and forums. Any online data on a criminal can be found through keywords or phrases that hint toward a pattern of interest. Text mining software such as SAS Text Miner allows for this to happen.

Criminal Search Engines.  

In the case of sex offenders, there are search engines available online to locate ones in a specific area. Family Watchdog, Family Beacon, Criminal Check and Map Sex Offenders are all search engines for criminals. There are also official, government-backed sites, such as National Alert Agency and Megan’s Law Nationwide Registries and Links. Even genealogy sites can help provide information to an investigator.

All of these techniques have proven very useful in tracking down criminals and bringing them to justice. It just takes a little internet savvy on the part of the investigator in order to do it.

Rodney Floyd is a professional bail bondsman with RODNEY OKC Bail Bonds in Moore, OK. Rodney is passionate about sharing information online through his blogs, on Facebook, and provides local bail bonds services in Moore, Oklahoma to the local community.