Private investigators like consider staying on top of technology one of the requirements of the job. So when the bad guys start a trend of using a new technology, we are ready with investigative strategies to stay in step with them.
We do a lot of computer investigation, forensic computer analysis and mobile phone forensics. In our experience, bad guys are trying to move money through services like Bitcoin. Many believe that transactions through these services are undetectable. While tracing the transactions takes extra skill and perseverance, they are not completely hidden.
One example is that in order to get funds into the systems, the virtual currency has to actually be purchased. And purchases leave a paper trail.
Computer forensics specialists, especially those who are also skilled investigators in the know of current trends, are aware and watch for clues to the financial use of virtual currency. With data mining software, evidence is securely extracted and preserved for use in court.
Cellphone records and cell phone forensics come into play as well because like most other online businesses, virtual currency sites have their share of mobile apps. While the identity of the buyer and seller may be hidden, the transaction is still part of the data on the device. And that means that cell phone forensic analysis can retrieve it. Remember what we have been saying for a long time, just because you have deleted something on a device does not mean it is gone. In fact, mobile phone forensics or a computer forensic investigation can reveal almost everything that has ever been on the device.
The virtual currency industry is just starting to rev up. Not all legitimate service or product providers are jumping on the bandwagon, but, as usual, those who want to hide activities are drawn to the service.
Uncovering virtual currency transactions is becoming more common in financial investigations and asset investigations and recovery. Soon-to-be ex-spouses intent on hiding assets in divorce, especially, are using virtual currency to do so. Although the tax and legal requirements are the same for virtual currency, there are questions as to how those requirements are being policed. So the opportunity to move money into hidden off shore accounts or other hidden bank accounts seems a little easier once the funds have been moved through as virtual currency. It’s just that hiding money in divorce before and after the use of the virtual currency is still highly traceable.
So while the bad guys are out there looking for new ways to avoid detection, are looking at all the ways potentially good technology can be used to benefit bad guys. You can count on us to find the truth. That’s what we do.
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations