As we all move towards an online life, so are the bad guys and the crimes. From cybercrimes that put our online security and identities in danger like malwares, phishing, and other scams; to traditional crimes being facilitated through online channels like theft, counterfeit goods, illegal drugs, and human trafficking. While online- and cybercrimes aren’t necessarily what law enforcement officers are trained for in the Academy, the profession is swiftly catching up and updating their skills to ensure that they are equipped to investigate and address these things that endanger the community they serve.
Jake Creps joins the Justice Clearinghouse on this session to discuss online marketplaces that may be used to facilitate illegal activities and how to efficiently gather information using these platforms. Jake is an open-source intelligence specialist and the Product Manager at Skopenow. He’s held various roles in both the public and private sectors working on different aspects of security intelligence and digital investigations.
His discussion covered:
- Using marketplaces for valuable law enforcement intelligence that may indicate criminal activity.
- A brief introduction to Skopenow, the different fields that they serve, their client base, and the products they provide.
- How Amazon and the Facebook Marketplace is being used to enable criminal and fraudulent activity through scams and sale of counterfeit or stolen items.
- Common problems and obstacles for investigators when trying to gather data and leads from Amazon and the Facebook Marketplace.
- The need for an account within the platform to get started with the search.
- Limitations with Advanced Search Capability to narrow down searches.
- The unorganized and inconsistent product listing and format of the URL search structure.
- The absence of archiving function for sold out items
- Amazon’s inability to actually pinpoint the location of the product.
- Facebook Marketplace’s inability to search for listings via an individual’s main profile.
- The free tools that may be utilized in the collection of information through the online marketplaces that may be potential evidence for an investigation.
- Instant Data Scraper that automates the scraping of pertinent details in a webpage or online marketplace as a CSV list.
- GoFullPage that does a full-page screen capture and immortalizes the page as it is viewed.
- Save as MHTML that downloads the page as it was live at the time it was viewed.
- AMZ(Amazon)Scout Stock Stats that provides a view of the different sellers’ unit stocks of a specific item.
- Google Search Operators that help filter and narrow down search results.
- A live demo was provided to show how these tools, OSINT, and other traditional investigative strategies can uncover the business/seller’s name, location, activity, other listings, and social interactions/associations.
Jake responded to questions during the Q&A about:
- How Skopenow can automate the process involved with the data gathering, analysis, and investigation through their products.
- The tools mentioned during the webinar and using it for other platforms like eBay and Craigslist.
- Valuable information for investigation gathered through the Instant Data Scraper.
- Publicly available information on these marketplaces and instances when a warrant is needed.
- Training for similar investigative processes shown in the webinar.
- Tools to use for mapping social networks or associations.
- Using open-source investigation in a missing person case.
- Learning about Google Search Operators.
Resources Mentioned During Webinar:
- Skopenow: Open Source Investigation Tools
- Save as MHTML
- Instant Data Scraper
- AMZScout Stock Stats
- Google Advanced Search Operators:
- “There was so much information that was new to me that it was all valuable. I’m developing a greater interest in cybersecurity in general so it was very enlightening. Thank you for the sources to start looking down “rabbit holes.”” — Kari
- “The techniques that you can use for social media like timestamps and location. Also how to do investigations and gray areas.” — Marc
- “The speaker was (is) very knowledgeable and presented the information well. The real-time instruction using the various websites was a very effective method.” — Robert
- “I appreciated the walk-through on Amazon and the browser info.” — Shekinah
- “Great webinar, very succinct and informational. Thank you!” — Samuel
- “All the different free tools resources to do searches on the marketplace.” — Karen
- “Great information!” — Shirrell