• How do I get suspects to friend me?

    November 4, 2019 | Blog
  • As modern private investigators, social media can often play a pivotal role in both our civil and criminal investigations. As it should since much of all our lives is now documented there.  Where we eat, who are our friends, what gym we go to, our children and siblings, what car we drive, our birthday.  These are all things that help investigators follow you and reconstruct your daily life.  Most of the time, we don’t have to work very hard to get this information as most Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts have enough information available to the public to reconstruct much of your daily life. As investigators, we’ve even located a person believed to be deceased by the courts.  But they were happily sharing away memes and posting grandchild pictures.

    But what if you have all your accounts set private? You are safe, right? Maybe.  Maybe not.  Do you really know everyone on your friend’s list? Are you sure?

    Here’s how I get people to friend me… well, my investigator social media me.  I have an account that’s years old that has a fictious, generically named person.  Let’s say Sally White (no, that’s not really it).  I live local to you or where you grew up.  I choose a generic as possible profile picture either showing kids or pets, I’ll be close to your age.  Everyone has seen the gorgeous models and military general fake profiles, no one is accepting those.  There just aren’t as many with a kid holding a Golden Retriever puppy.

    But I don’t friend you straight away.  I go through your friend’s list and choose to friend people with things in common with you.  I’ll send a request to everyone who went to your high school or who lives in a place you used to live. If your friend’s list is private I find the closest relative or friend to you whose isn’t private and use their account.  I can also still see who likes or comments on things like your profile picture.  I find as many friends as I can that all have one trait in common with you.  They may go to high school with you, I use that most when it’s available.  They may have the same breed of dog as you, go to the same club as you or do the same hobby. And I send a friend request to every last one.  About 25% will accept on average.

    Then it’s set, friend request.  When most people see we have ten or more friends in common, they will accept my request.  After all maybe they just don’t know my new married name.  They probably remember me by my maiden name.  And you’ve just friended me so I now have access to so much of what you are doing making surveillance so much easier.

    Want to avoid this? On Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, make sure you actually know your friends and followers in real life.  Or get Snapchat and screen people carefully.  Investigators hate SnapChat.

    Important points: This is not intended as a guide for investigators or individuals to do the same but awareness for the average person that uses social media how people may attempt to gain information.  In many states, it is illegal to impersonate a real person on social media.  Do not do this if you aren’t fond of jail time.  I never pretend to be another real person.  You shouldn’t either to get someone to accept the request.  Do not make an account pretending to be their relative or friend.  That’s a huge no.  It is also sometimes illegal and always in bad taste to use someone else’s picture without their explicit consent.  Use your own pictures or someone’s that agrees in writing for their pictures to be used on your social media.  Always check your state laws and/or consult with and attorney if attempting this yourself.