Crime Scene Facebook: Computer Forensic Scientists Find Digital Evidence Clues on Social Media

by MeadowLark

Digital forensics examiners know how criminals boast online. Gang members use Twitter to schedule their fights. Accused felons threaten witnesses on Facebook.

Prosecutors and detectives are using digital forensics to find a treasure trove of evidence by mining the social media sites. Forensic scientists delve into sites like Facebook and Twitter and come up with the footprints that criminals leave behind.

It will be interesting to see what evidence the computer forensics investigators will find on social media in the Boston Marathon bombing case.

Thieves use Facebook for bragging and boasting. Felons use code words to substitute for "guns" and "kill". Crime investigators are keeping up with the deceptions, though.

Detectives Bust Gang Members Who Couldn't Keep a Secret on Facebook

The cops weren't fooled by secret code words for "guns" and "kill"

In April, the Manhattan District Attorney and New York City's Police Commissioner announced that they have indited 63 dangerous and violent gang members on felony conspiracy charges, attempted murder, gun trafficking charges, and more.

According to the DA's office, the gang members made hundreds of posts on Twitter and Facebook to buy and sell guns and to plan murders. 

One defendant was busted partly because of posts he made like this one: 

"I'm 2 Glocks strapped rolling down 112 Madison 116th this is the New Iraq”.

These East Harlem gang members used "rock to sleep early" as code for murder. Calling a gun a "biscuit" or a "blammer', and referring to ammo as "sea shellz" in Tweets may have seemed clever at the time, but the forensic detectives were not fooled.

Crime Scene Facebook: How Forensic Scientists are Finding Clues on Social Media

How the Investigators Catch the (Somewhat) Tech-savvy Perps

Forensic science discovers electronic footprints

Detectives often create a phony account so that they can “friend” a suspected criminal. Then they read the suspect's posts. Is he hinting about crimes being planned? Is he bragging about getting away with past crimes?

Although Facebook policy officially frowns upon creating fake identities, exceptions are made. 

In 2009, a member of The New Dons gang in New York proudly said, "We got our own page. Our page is private."  Well, maybe not.

The FBI has gotten search warrants to enable them to look at private Facebook details of defendants awaiting trial. In some cases, the suspect may still be updating the Facebook page from jail!

FBI agents have found evidence by scrutinizing photos on social media sites, looking for jewelry or guns that might have relevance to a robbery. Some crooks have even posted Youtube videos of their crimes!

Training to become a Certified Computer Examiner will definitely involve more techniques for scanning, monitoring, and mining the internet for evidence, as criminals increasingly leave their clues on social media to be discovered by the experts. Digital forensics jobs involve keeping up with all the latest trends in mining the digital evidence that's out there on social media.

Updated: 09/09/2013, MeadowLark
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katiem2 on 04/11/2013

I must say I'm amazed at some of the details regular law abiding people post online, it's crazy. I guess criminals feel the law doesn't check social sites out for evidence and yet that is stupid. Very interesting article I enjoyed reading. :)K

wrapitup4me on 04/10/2013

Stupid criminals! But I guess their egos get in the way of their brains. I enjoyed reading this article.

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