Social Media Snooping

A few weeks ago, the Telegraph published fascinating stories about how the “naive heirs” of the super rich were putting the family assets at risk by flaunting their lavish lifestyles on social media. It reported that social media posts were being used as evidence in 75 percent of litigation cases and, in one particular case in which a man claimed to own nothing, one of his children posted pictures of the family’s £12 million super-yacht in the Bahamas.

This is not all that uncommon. There is even a blog dedicated to the “Rich Kids of Instagram.”

But while the “rich kids” are flaunting their over-the-top lifestyles, there is a growing trend for people (especially in the older generation) to be a bit more careful about what they say and do on social media. As more people have been concerned about privacy issues, there has certainly been a trend for people to limit the public access to everything in their stream, to set their profiles to private or to simply post under a fake name.

Especially among the wealthy, who have been targeted for burglary using social media. Except for guys like 50 Cent, who had to explain to the court how he had posed with stacks of $100 bills that spelled out the word “broke” after filing for bankruptcy.

Nevertheless, what the Telegraph story highlights is something that professional snoopers have known for a long time – the Achilles’ heel of snooping on social media is “naive” family members and friends.

You see, while certain types of people have a complete aversion to social media, more often than not, those people around them do not. Nine times out of 10, you will be on social media whether you realize it or not.

We just wrapped up a large background investigation project on about 20 individuals that related to a complex legal matter, and about half of them had absolutely zero social media accounts. But we found photos and other details of their private lives on every single one of them through the Facebook and Instagram accounts held by their children, wives and friends.

So while you (or the person you are investigating) will do everything you can to protect your privacy when it comes to social media, chances are your information is out there somewhere.

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8 replies
  1. christine Leonhardt
    christine Leonhardt says:

    Awesome piece and ever so interesting! So many awesome points!! Have you ever run across fake accounts from social media? Programs like Fiverr can make up for many fake accounts..and can take time to evaluate from a real profile. Like you mentioned- somewhere there will be info to be found throughout social media. You are so awesome at what you do!

  2. Edmund Magdziarek bury detectives
    Edmund Magdziarek bury detectives says:

    The use of social media can be of even greater importance here in the uk, where there is much less open source data available than in the US.
    Thankfully this is likely to be an open avenue of information for some time as there will always be the younger more naive family member who feels they’ve nothing to hide.

  3. Andy White
    Andy White says:

    Great article and good points made. There is always more than one way to “skin a cat” as it were and out of the box thinking such yours is what can make or break an investigation. Thanks for the insight!

  4. Buddy Thomas
    Buddy Thomas says:

    Interesting..This is why I subscribe besides maybe needing your services in the future…and learning.Thanks

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