From the files of Nashville private investigator, Thomas H. Humphreys:
Here's a brief list of open source resources you need to know about. If you're an investigator and you ever need to find someone or information about someone, check out these free tools.
5. BING - Seriously, don't stop at GOOGLE. Click on over to www.bing.com/social and see what you find there. Bing can find mentions in Facebook and Twitter. Google, not so much. We used this to track a reluctant witness. She was 23 years old, reticent, and addicted to twitter. She actually tweeted flight number and arrival time at BNA.
4. You Tube - Did you know you can search right there at www.youtube.com? We've used this to locate video evidence in insurance fraud cases, domestic cases, and to find embarrassing video of our friends. Refute that.
3. Tineye - Found a picture and you want to know whence it came? www.tineye.com You can find out how many places the same image shows up online. Also, you can (on occasion) use Exif metadata to tell where and when a picture was taken. Okay, so number 3 is actually a two-fer. Any time you find a photo on line, strip it for information.
2. GIS Searches - Most counties have some degree of geographic information system in place by now. If you can find the gateway to your county's GIS system, use it. Maps, aerial photos, tax records, deeds, zoning informaiton, etc. etc. all for free all on line. It may take a little bit of snooping to find your county's GIS portal, but hey - that's what we do. Isn't it?
1. Wedding Channel - This little gem is right at the top of my list for under appreciated resources. I have to give full credit to Cynthia Hetherington over at The Hetherington Group for this one. If you're trying to locate a skip or a witness, www.weddingchannel.com is a brilliant angel for intelligence. If your subject has registered for wedding presents at Target, Kohl's, Macey's, etc. etc. they will very likely be here at www.weddingchanel.com. Check it out.
Here at [FIND] Investigations we try to stay on top of useful tools. The list above is based on our research over the past several years. The number one pic comes directly from an ACFE sponsored seminar we attended while at the 23rd Annual ACFE Fraud Conference. For more information on how to fully exploit open source intelligence, you should probably check out Cynthia Hetherington. She is a librarian and a PI, lethal combination.