Just who do you think you are?

As an everyday Joe, being able to find out who is behind a phone number could help identify a crank caller, scammer or phone threat.  As an investigator we have long had resources for this type of thing, some that are free and many which cost money.

In my previous post titled Jenny 867-5309 I detail many sources used to help identify phone subscribers. Those were sources utilizing either caller ID data or directory assistance. But what if the phone number you are trying to ID is a mobile phone and is not listed in an online database? You could call the number and listen to the voicemail, but that would compromise your own phone number. Drum roll please…..here’s the turn.

Super-sleuth Robert Scott author of the “The Investigator’s Little Black Book” and proprietor of www.skipsmasher.com has created a nifty little investigative tool for the masses called Spy Dialer. How it works is you submit the subject’s mobile number into Spy Dialer and it anonymously queries the voicemail system of that number. The cool part is what magicians call the Prestige; a surreptitious recording of the subscriber’s voice and that’s not all…the ability to download the recording to your PC!

Well now you may ask, what’s the catch?  No catch. There is both a free and a paid service. The only vice of the free service is if your perp calls the number back it will play a short quip about Spy Dialer. The paid service is a very reasonable at $9.95 per year. There is even an Android app currently available and an iPhone app in the works.

So the next time you get this Prank Caller (offensive), the only question will be, do I want to be the victim or victor? Spydialer.com

Keep following those virtual breadcrumbs. ~ The Hi-Tech P.I.

Searching High and Low

There are many ways to confirm someone’s residence during an investigation. Now depending on local laws, some of these methods could be illegal, so always verify beforehand. In order to find Intel that will confirm a suspect resides at the alleged address, an investigator will sometimes examine letters in the mailbox, look at trash in garbage cans or just wait around for the resident to appear. In some situations they may even have a neighbor or local mail carrier confirm residence, but that is only if anonymity is not a concern. Now the aforementioned ‘low-tech’ methods of confirming residence are usable, but let us explore a couple of high-tech methods as well.

Our first high-tech method requires a WiFi enabled device, e.g., smart phone, tablet or a laptop. Once parked in front of the suspected residence, open your WiFi device’s Wireless & Network settings. A screen similar to the one pictured below should be viewable, revealing a list of available networks. Each network is represented by an SSID aka network name. Some SSID’s are gibberish, but many will be customized by the owner. So if you were sitting outside my house and searched for a WiFi network you may see ‘The HiTech PI’ (example only), along with a strength indicator, which is an added bonus because the closer you get to that residence the more confirmation you will have. As you can also see I have a neighbor by the name of Wesley and another Madison, both true. I have seen many people use good indicators like “Holmes House” or “Craigs Cave”.

The great thing about using SSID as confirmation is that it is in real-time. You know that the resident has current internet service at the address that is broadcasting the signal.

Another high-tech method used to locate/confirm residence are location based social networking platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Along the same lines of network names, are user created ‘venues’ or places with their own names incorporated in them. For example my friend’s home may be a venue called “Joe Smith’s Garage”, which usually lists an exact address or cross street. Even though it may only list a cross street, since these are GPS enabled apps, the marker on the venue map is often an accurate GPS placement. The Foursquare method can be utilized when you are in the area of the suspected residence, or alternatively, venues may be searched at http://www.foursquare.com, where they can be narrowed by city and zip.

Keep following those virtual breadcrumbs. ~ The Hi-Tech P.I.

Land of the free…

There are plenty of reverse phone look-up services that will reveal what type of provider and the name of the carrier for landlines and cell phones. My favorites for these are www.phonelookup.com and www.phonevalidator.com. But what if you need to know the provider for a “toll-free” number, so you can obtain subpoena data? Well I have seen these types of sites come and go pretty regularly, but my current favorite is www.customtollfree.com.

Is Waldo hiding his business in Panama?

Have you ever thought that a subject you are investigating may be behind a Panama corporation? But you don’t know the name of the corporation, only the name of the subject? Well even though the Panama Public Register only lets you search by business, this little known link will help you do the

Big hairdos and bell bottoms…

Do you have a perp or subject who you are investigating, but they are not internet savvy enough to be listed on social networks? Well you still need to put a face to the name for possible service or stakeout, right? But hey, you know from their relative or friend that they went to college at “Hard Knocks” University, right? Well a good resource for actual scanned pages of hundreds of yearbooks is right here. Enjoy.

Quid Pro Quo

I am in my mid 30’s and have been conducting investigations most of my life. My father was a New Jersey State Trooper and after retiring, started his own detective agency. I was conducting surveillance, trash grabs and skiptraces from a very early age. Having the insight of watching two generations in my family be on the forefront of the investigative field, has been in invaluable resource. In the past 8 years I have seen an epic level of growth in my level of knowledge and skill with adapting to new found technology and utilizing them to solve cases. As technology advances, so does economic growth of intellectual property owners and society in general; however it enhances the criminal enterprise as well. The more advances we see in technology, the more often criminals will find a way to use this for their own benefit. Of course at a great cost to the rest of us. It is my goal, and our industry’s for that matter, to stay ahead of the techno-savvy slime and assist in educating each other, so we are the ones on the inside and not the out. This blog is about us giving, in order to recieve useful, relevant information. – The Hi-Tech P.I.