Think Twice Before Going Undercover

Who would have thought that creating a fake profile on MySpace (a violation of their user agreement) could lead to a criminal conviction? The recent verdict in the case of Lori Drew concluded that she was guilty of computer fraud for doing just that. Of course the verdict was influenced by the belief that the email messages sent under the false identity contributed to a girl’s suicide, and certainly gave the impetus for the criminal charge.

Let this be a warning to information researchers and investigators who are collecting data on subjects through their social networking sites.

As part of my investigations I do passive information gathering on the Internet, like monitoring MySpace sites. Other investigators have asked me if they should create a profile to become a “friend” of someone who has a private MySpace page in order to get access to the full site. Before you do it you better be tech savvy so you can cover your footsteps.

Like with any other investigative action keep in mind: Is this legal and ethical? How would it be perceived by a jury? Will this be detrimental to the overall case? Are there unintended consequences that may reflect badly on my client?

57 thoughts on “Think Twice Before Going Undercover

  1. Pingback: Is It Legal for A Private Investigator To Lie On MySpace? | Private Investigator Public Records Internet Search Privacy Reporting - PI Buzz

  2. Pingback: Private Investigations NJ | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  3. Pingback: Private Investigations NJ | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  4. Pingback: How To Hire someone for private investigation in New Jersey … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  5. Pingback: Thinking of Hiring a Private Investigator? Read This First … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  6. Pingback: Useful Tips On private investigation in New Jersey | How To Find People | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  7. Pingback: Useful Tips On private investigation in New Jersey | How To Find People | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  8. Pingback: Dealing With Criminal Background Checks, How To Become Private … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  9. Pingback: Dealing With Criminal Background Checks, How To Become Private … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  10. Pingback: Private Investigators - PInow.com | Investigator Directory: PIs … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  11. Pingback: Hint About private investigation in New Jersey | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  12. Pingback: Hint About private investigation in New Jersey | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  13. Pingback: Free Essential Information About private investigation in New Jersey | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  14. Pingback: Can This private investigation in New Jersey Information Save Your Life? | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  15. Pingback: Nightclub shooting under investigation | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  16. Pingback: The Evince Blog » Blog Archive » Social Networks as a Due Diligence Tool

  17. Pingback: Professionals Required to be Licensed for Private Investigation… | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  18. Pingback: Professionals Required to be Licensed for Private Investigation… | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  19. Pingback: | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  20. Pingback: | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  21. Pingback: How to Become a Professional Private Investigator VII | The … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  22. Pingback: Be Your Own Private Eye » Blog Archive » What You Can Expect from … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  23. Pingback: Be Your Own Private Eye » Blog Archive » What You Can Expect from … | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  24. Pingback: A Look Into Texas private investigation in New Jersey | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  25. Pingback: A Look Into Texas private investigation in New Jersey | BMR Investigations New Jersey

  26. Pingback: Be Your Own Private Eye » Blog Archive » 6 Tips for Honing … | bmrinvestigations

  27. Pingback: New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington Private Investigator … | bmrinvestigations

  28. Pingback: New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington Private Investigator … | bmrinvestigations

  29. Pingback: Do You Know What Your Security Staff is Up To? | bmrinvestigations

  30. Pingback: Do You Know What Your Security Staff is Up To? | bmrinvestigations

  31. Pingback: Be Your Own Private Eye? | bmrinvestigations

  32. Pingback: Private Investigator for BMR Investigations | bmrinvestigations

  33. Pingback: How to Become a Professional Private Investigator | bmrinvestigations

  34. Pingback: How to Become a Professional Private Investigator | bmrinvestigations

  35. Pingback: The Quick And Easy Way To Gather Facts - Content Caboodle | bmrinvestigations

  36. Pingback: The Quick And Easy Way To Gather Facts - Content Caboodle | bmrinvestigations

  37. Pingback: Process Serving - Private Investigator Forums | bmrinvestigations

  38. Pingback: Process Serving - Private Investigator Forums | bmrinvestigations

  39. Pingback: Be Your Own Private Eye | bmrinvestigations

  40. Pingback: Private Investigative Issues: | bmrinvestigations

  41. Pingback: Know More on private investigation in New Jersey | bmrinvestigations

  42. Pingback: Useful Tips On private investigation in New Jersey | bmrinvestigations

  43. Pingback: Useful Tips On private investigation in New Jersey | bmrinvestigations

  44. Pingback: Private Investigator May Prove Man Accused of Homicide Innocent … | bmrinvestigations

  45. Pingback: How Can a Private Investigative Service Help You? | bmrinvestigations

  46. My thoughts on this subject are that it is not as much of a worry as we seem to believe….

    Ask yourself this: (Are the FEDs going to charge you with a criminal violation of the MySpace TOS just for using a “pretexting account” for gathering information on a subject?)

    I don’t think so… Does anyone know what a Federal Investigation and Prosecution cost? Do you really believe that much money will be spent on the P.I. that is using a “pretexting account” to gather information on the subject of one of their investigations?

    In the case of Lori Drew, there was more to it than just setting up a bogus MySpace Account.. It went something like this:

    Lori Drew set up a false MySpace account for the purpose of willfully and maliciously tormenting and terrorizing a teenager that she knew suffered from depression… Lori Drew’s intent was to punish young Megan Meier by setting up a false MySpace account and causing her to develop an on-line relationship with a person that appeared to be in her peer group but actually was not, and then using this online relationship to cause Megan Meier great emotional distress.

    The result was that a young lady committed suicide. The result and the intent had as much to do with the prosecution as the violation of MySpace’s TOS.

    Having said this; I’d also say that one can gather information on the Internet about a subject of their investigation just as effectively without using a”pretexting account”; IF they know what they are doing…. There are multiple sites on the Internet that will allow you to “mine data” from these social networking sites. Google is a GREAT search engine, but it is not the “be all and end all” to searching for information on the Internet.

    Pretexting should be a last resort option.. And all of your other options should be thoroughly exhausted before pretexting is even considered.. If you are working a case that winds up in court, and you use any form of pretexting, you sure better be able to explain why it was necessary and be able to demonstrate that you exhausted all other options before you decided to use pretexting to gather information in your investigation. And remember, EVEN if you are completely legal in your pretext in a court case, you still run the risk of having the court frown upon your work, i.e. upsetting the Judge…

    Rick.

  47. Pingback: Sting Investigations - BMR can help | bmrinvestigations

  48. Pingback: Sting Investigations - BMR can help | bmrinvestigations

  49. Pingback: Be Your Own Private Eye » Blog Archive » Tips on How to Update … | bmrinvestigations

  50. Pingback: Be Your Own Private Eye » Blog Archive » Tips on How to Update … | bmrinvestigations

  51. Pingback: How to Find Missing Persons | Content for Reprint | bmrinvestigations

  52. Pingback: How to Find Missing Persons | Content for Reprint | bmrinvestigations

  53. Pingback: Corporate crime and private investigator requirements in New Jersey | bmrinvestigations

  54. Pingback: private detective | Digg hot tags

  55. Pingback: » Think Twice Before Going Undercover - Private Investigator …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>