About twenty years ago, social media was barely in its infancy. We had chat rooms, occasional photo sharing sites, and “rooms,” and in 2003, a site called Myspace. If you knew where to look, you could find a photo here, a photo there, maybe some insight into the type of music your subject or claimant preferred, but nothing really tangible. Fast-forward a decade or so, and people can’t wait to post their latest life experiences on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, and a host of smaller sites. Over this last decade, that trend has not only continued but increased. Now, you can read about and sometimes even see the wild side of Mardi Gras, watch little videos and even live views of an individual’s vacation, a trip to a dance hall or nightclub, or any number of other activities.
Even individuals attempting to avoid being found can’t resist the temptation to post about their new car, with the license plate showing, or their new house, while standing in front of the residence with the address visible on the wall. I have forgotten how many times a claimant has sworn to an adjuster they live at one address while the photos posted on social media point toward another address that comes up on a database report. Even if the full address isn’t posted on the sign attached to the residence, if the house numbers are visible, or just the colors of the brick and exterior paneling, that can be enough. Google Street-View is another valuable Open-Source resource. When a claimant owns three houses but consistently provides the residence he placed his mother in as his own while posting on social media in front of another residence, a confirmed street-view photo of the other residences can be invaluable. When you, as the client, are given instructions to order surveillance at the provided address but have reason to believe the claimant is elsewhere, you need an investigator who can adequately articulate why you believe your claimant is at another location.
What if the claimant doesn’t exit the residence much? And when he does go outside, he uses a cane and sits most of the time? We once had a claimant who lived on a rural street off a major freeway and left home only once. Our investigator followed her to the restaurant she co-owned with her husband, where she parked next to the rear employees’ entrance, which was surrounded by an eight-foot privacy fence. When the investigator entered and obtained a seat, he did so just in time to see her disappear into the kitchen. By the time the investigator figured out the claimant had departed, it was too late to continue mobile surveillance. Enter the Social Media Canvass conducted by Preferred Intelligence office personnel. After being advised the field investigator lost the claimant, PI office personnel conducted a secondary review of the claimant’s social media, based on the initial discovery of the claimant’s Yoga videos. Within minutes, the claimant was observed conducting a “Live” on Facebook, performing a variety of yoga moves for a remote learning class. The screen recording taken, coupled with the “Live” tag on the window of the screen where the claimant was posting, proved sufficient for the client to deny the claim, as the positions the claimant was bending herself into could not possibly have been accomplished had she been really suffering from the injuries alleged.
The next time you need comprehensive OSINT research conducted, call the company that will utilize everything available to get the job done. Call Preferred Intelligence at 214-785-4504.