Digital Footprints and Forensic Investigations
Ever-increasing reliance on technology, in all its forms, is both good news and bad news for fraud investigators. The exponential growth in the digital footprint created by an individual navigating life presents an ocean of data that can provide crucial evidence in an investigation. Acquiring, processing and analysing that data, however, can be daunting.
Irrespective of how technologically advanced, creative or devious a fraudster is, every action leaves a digital footprint. Humans contribute to their digital footprint almost every waking moment, and often even while they are asleep. From traditional sources of information such as text messages, emails and online search history to information shared with apps on our mobile devices and smart watches, like sleep patterns, geolocations and activities, almost everything we do contributes to our digital footprint.
There is enormous value in this digital footprint – to marketers, scammers and investigators alike. It is particularly valuable in facilitating more efficient and accurate investigation of fraud, and a higher level of confidence in convicting wrongdoers. Acquiring, analysing and interpreting electronic evidence when investigating fraud is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Cases that do not require the collection and analysis of some form of electronic evidence, whether structured or unstructured, are few and far between.
An ocean of data:
The digital trail left when a person posts on, or even views, various social media platforms allows investigators to connect the dots, something not possible only a few years ago. People are generally over-sharers of information on social media platforms, or they share information and media that contains data points not immediately obvious to the user.