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Using the Internet as an Investigative Tool 5: People Search Services

Read previous: Using the Internet as an Investigative Tool 4: Searching Blogs and Wikis

A number of Twitter services and various people search tools are the investigative instruments Lance Hawk tells about in this part of his narration.

Searching Tweets

Now, searching Tweets. We have Twitter itself, Twittorati and Monitter. Monitter is pretty slick. You’ll see how different that is, if you haven’t already.

Twitter’s capabilities to facilitate investigation

Twitter’s capabilities to facilitate investigation

Recently they’ve added a new capability to Twitter. You can actually see mini profiles now, I use this capability all the time. It’s like a summary, think of that as a summary: it has bio, recent tweets. What’s really neat too is a lot of people start to embed photos and videos in Twitter. And you actually get to see a photo, video embedded – that type of deal. And that’s just recently added.

I do not use Twitter too much. I just occasionally put stuff out there, just to keep an account going if I ever have to need it to do something. You know, in this case you see some of the tweets that I had. I’m actually quite restrictive on followers. Twitter itself is a good search engine, just like eBay itself is a good search engine, and we will talk later about eBay. I am shocked at the amount of information I find even on eBay.

Twittorati is almost like little Twitter. I find stuff on that, I don’t find it on Twitter, I can’t explain why.

Monitter allows multiple keyword search

Monitter allows multiple keyword search

Now, where Monitter is unique and good is you can actually use multiple, up to three keywords, at one time while conducting your search (see image). And you got be very careful with this because if it is something that’s active, your screen is gonna be flying. And you talk about network bandwidth, and if you have a place which is bandwidth sensitive, you wanna be careful there. Let’s say ‘Air Products’ and maybe some other competitor – where we basically use this is for intellectual assets protection searching.

Searching for People

List of applicable services for people search

List of applicable services for people search

Now, searching for people. Most of these are free. What you can see here is the technology has been changing, where when you search for people you used to have email right away; now what they are starting to do is obfuscating by putting something like asterisks and some of the fields – like, you might see H*** for my last name. You’ll always see the domain though, but you’ll never see the full name anymore. And now what they want you to do is contact such and such. What I end up doing is I take that H and then the asterisks, and I will do a wildcard with that and I go back to Google to start searching with that. So you are kind of reverse engineering stuff.

Probably out of all these, my favorite one is Pipl. It’s not restricted to the U.S. A lot of these are just U.S. based. We had a resent investigation in the Netherlands, we were tracking stuff in the Netherlands. I found exactly what I wanted on Pipl. I had started out the investigation that’s said, you know: “This person has this ID”. And I searched on the ID. I had a specific ID, so I started with Google. And that got hits on eBay ID. Now I looked in the eBay ID, I did a history search on that. I saw other IDs that the user uses, which eBay will show you. Then I did searches on his other IDs, and that’s when I found information and it actually brought the cases that we wanted. So it’s a whole process.

Peculiarities of ZabaSearch

Peculiarities of ZabaSearch

There is another one, ZabaSearch (see image). If you do a phone number lookup, you actually default out to another search, and it says: “We found your information, for $29.95 we’ll return your information”. I’ll save you $29.95, they don’t return your information. Well, I actually didn’t say that… They might return your information, but a lot of times I tried they did not return my information that I wanted. Phone number lookup defaults to Intelius, and it’s a premium search.

But this by itself is not a premium search. It is restricted to U.S. If you are sure what state the person is in, again, do that because it’s gonna return a heck of a lot of hits that you might have to call through.

ZoomInfo contains data on business people

ZoomInfo contains data on business people

ZoomInfo is a database specifically for business people (see image). It’s almost like a subset of LinkedIn. This will tell you more. For instance I did a search on myself. Again, I didn’t restrict that to state. And I got I am a member of Nevada Area Council Inc., but I am not a member. Obviously that was not me. Obviously the second one is not me. Hey, the third one is me. And if you see the checked aside email and phone, I did follow out just to see if it would disclose it. And it went to another service, which says: “For $29.95 we will return this”. You know, I didn’t pay the $29.95. So this is more for business.

Pipl provides advanced search by multiple values

Pipl provides advanced search by multiple values

Here is my favorite one – Pipl. This is the biggest thing out there, providing reverse lookup capability, email, username. I mean, you can be dealing with some piece of evidence. A lot of times we might start off with an email from, say, hawklp@airproducts.com. I wanna know who hawklp is. Well, we have an email address, and we have a username. So there are two ways to start the search on there. And then, like I said, you might go out to Google and submit that. And that might say: “He is an eBay user”. So you go to eBay. So you work all this stuff together, but that is my favorite one. It is free and it is good.

Searching a person via Intelius

Searching a person via Intelius

Intelius seems to be like a number one thing that defaults out people search. And Social Security Number – that’s an interesting one. The Social Security, what’s called the death index, is actually publicly searchable, which blew my mind. Less than a year ago, I thought, I never met my father, so a good test would be to try and track him down. So I went through all these things. I found one place he was on. And you will never guess the place he was on – Ancestry.com. It really blew my mind. I am thinking of myself like a Mister Pro, I am using this advanced thing and that advanced thing – and it pops on this ancestry.com. You will be surprised – it listed his Social Security Number.

Searching for Email

Pitfalls and drawbacks of available email search services

Pitfalls and drawbacks of available email search services

Now, searching for email. As I said before, right now there is no good email finder by itself. We’ve talked about lot of products like Spokeo and stuff like that that you can do the reverses search and all that with. A lot of them are masking now. So sometimes you might get a message saying: “For 29.95 we will tell you”. You can try that, but before you try that I am telling you – 50% of the time you’re gonna have successes. Just take what they give you and mask, and then do a regular Google search, and you’ll probably get it. But if you don’t, you know this is the type of product you can use.

'Email Finder' service in a nutshell

'Email Finder' service in a nutshell

Email Finder hosted at emailfinder.com is probably the only email finder I do subscribe to, besides Spokeo. And it actually is what it says (see image). I actually use it for some other functions, specifically blacklist checker. It’s one of the only ones I know that checks against the top blacklists out there. Because I wanna know that maybe I am not getting information because this guy is on some blacklist or something like that, so I always check that. EmailValidator is pretty good too. It will actually identify whether or not it’s a valid email address.

Basic facts on 123people resource

Basic facts on 123people resource

123people will show business emails but not personal. You know, you always get returned stuff like this, you get H and then you see the P, stuff like that. Well, you can search on that. And if I use a different search engine, I’ll actually get the airproducts.com but I want to get a piece upfront. And you start to put it together, and then you cut and paste, and then you do a search for that in Google, and a lot of times you’ll end up getting it.

Reverse Phone Lookups

Online tools for reverse phone lookups

Online tools for reverse phone lookups

Now, other old reverse lookups. Probably the best one up here which I like, which I’ve given to my kids and I’ve used a million of times is Whocalledus. Everybody gets those annoyance phone calls or phone calls on credit collections; you know, it says: “Number unavailable” and stuff like that. That’s sweet, plug it into that. And it is free, so you know who it is for. There are old classics here – Whitepages and Anywho – but like I said, I like Whocalledus.

PeopleLookup – 5 dollars per use – I’ve tried that several times and I’ve been unsuccessful on that. But I have achieved success on Reverse Phone Check.

Read next: Using the Internet as an Investigative Tool 6: Conclusion

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