Fugitives on Facebook

Almost on cue, following my last post about using social networking sites as an investigative tool… I ran across this article about a fugitive hiding from US authorities in Mexico who (somewhat foolishly) updated his status and location on his Facebook page.  While it is more and more common for investigators to search social network sites for information, what is most interesting to me about this example is that the first searches turned up nothing.

 

“Investigators initially could find no trace of him on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and they were unable to pin down his exact location in Mexico.”

But the actions of a persistent investigator turned up new information later in the investigation.  I recently posted a question on LinkedIn about the use of monitoring tools in investigations to address this very issue.
“But several months later, Secret Service agent Seth Reeg checked Facebook again — and up popped Maxi Sopo. His photo showed him wearing a black jacket decorated with a white lion as he stood in front of a party backdrop featuring logos of BMW and Courvoisier cognac.”
The other neat thing about this investigation is that although the fugitive’s profile was private – and therefore all the details were not visible to outsiders – the investigator was able to obtain the information by researching the fugitive’s “friends” on Facebook.

“Although Sopo’s profile was set to private, his list of friends was not, and Scoville started combing through it. He was surprised to see that one friend listed an affiliation with the Justice Department and sent him a message requesting a phone call.

‘We figured this was a person we could probably trust to keep our inquiry discreet,’ Scoville said.

The former official told Scoville he had met Sopo in Cancun’s nightclubs a few times, but did not really know him and had no idea he was a fugitive. The official learned where Sopo was living and passed that information back to Scoville, who provided it to Mexican authorities. They arrested Sopo last month.”

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