Ensnared In The Web

Fighting Fraud with Internet Searches

By Cynthia Hetherington, ACFE Associate Member

2009-MarchApril-Ensnared in the Web 

We now have tools we can use to search on the Web for the minutest details of suspected fraudsters. Use Google Alerts, social network sites, financial and relational blogs, classified and auction sites, plus new targeted search engines to find evidence that will stick.  

Recently, a client called to tell me someone had stolen one of his trucks containing an entire load of industrial heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment. The police recovered the truck some 20 miles down the road, but more than $200,000 worth of products was still missing.

My client's investigative and loss-prevention team worked closely with the police, conducting interviews and working their leads down to the wire. However, the products eventually turned up through a Web search. I'd been keeping an eye on auction sites, as well as resale and trade sites, and had found an HVAC vendor on www.Craigslist.com reselling all the same stolen parts five states away. The vendor even gave serial numbers and posted photographs of the equipment! We had found our crook.


For full access to story, members may sign in here.

Not a member? Click here to Join Now. Or Click here to sign up for a FREE TRIAL.